Love Has No Labels… But It Does Have a Language

When I came out about my same-sex attractions at 14, I felt free and exhilarated because I could finally be honest with myself. These attractions had set me apart from my peers since my childhood, but with this newfound sense of self-honesty, I was free to explore what might happen next. From confessing crushes with a little less awkwardness, to having girlfriends (I’m a girl by the way), to random hookups, I was living in a whole new world.

Toward the end of high school, I went through a process of serious self-reflection, which eventually brought me to the conclusion that I wanted to be Catholic (which was convenient, because I had already been baptized Catholic as a baby). But I was faced with a difficult reality: The Catholic Church obviously does not approve of same-sex romantic relationships. Before this time, I was not a fan of religion—especially Catholicism—so this topic touched deep wounds in my heart. Like ice cream on a sore tooth, I wanted to be Catholic, but the inner conflict was present . . . so I decided to investigate.

Setting my bitterness and hurt aside, I explored Catholic teaching on sexuality, and what I found left me floored. It was beautiful. It was majestic. It was . . . poetry. I discovered that the Catholic Church upheld a very specific definition of married love in that it isn’t simply about two people committing to each other for the rest of their lives out of love. Rather, the Church teaches that married love is so much more. It is transcendental: It is a visible manifestation of the love between God and humanity.

God endowed married love with a very unique language, distinguishing it from all other forms of loving relationships. And this love language, I came to find, very specifically requires one man and one woman, in order to be spoken properly. Why? Because married love is a model of Christ’s self-giving, life-giving love.

In marriage, a man and a woman come together so intimately that even their bodies profess what is going on in their hearts—the two become one flesh. God designed the bodies of men and women to come together and speak to the truth of his intimate love for us: a love which entered our world and made itself one with us, uniting itself to our flesh and creating new life in our hearts. A husband’s body allows him to enter not only his wife’s world, but his wife. A wife’s body allows her to receive not only her husband’s love, but her husband.

This is brilliantly described in The Song of Songs; the sexual love between a husband and a wife, and by allegory, the love between God and humanity. Within this type of union (which reflects our physical design), and with an openness to life as God permits, we are able to speak the language of God’s love. This language (and the capacity of our bodies for this language) was created by God to point us back to him.

So, the Church isn’t against same-sex marriage because it’s against “gay people” (it isn’t, and my life is living proof of that). Rather it is because the Church is for this beautiful language.

What does this mean for me?

I find these teachings beautiful, and I uphold them now. Is it always easy? Absolutely not. Do I always want to obey them? No. But, the Church’s teachings on human sexuality have helped me far more than they have inhibited me.

In short, the language of marriage has become a reference point for me. God loves me so much He freely gives Himself to me, so personally and so intimately, that He became “flesh of my flesh” in the Incarnation, and continues to create new life in me, which I struggle with (as we all do) but try to bear forth to the world.

It really is as simple as this: God’s vision of married love tells the love story of the Gospel, and I am so captivated by Jesus’ poetic, romantic love for us, that I wouldn’t trade the Church’s teaching on marriage for anything in the world!

God bless you all!
_______________________
Emily is a 23-year-old Theology student who spends her free time reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and dyeing her hair ridiculous colors. When she isn’t doing homework, she’s assisting with the youth ministry program at her parish.

31 Comments

  1. That was a sweet piece.

    By Annie | 2 years ago Reply
  2. Very touching… Thanks for sharing your story, Emily!

    By Anna | 2 years ago Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing this Emily. Beautifully written.

    By Clair McCormick | 2 years ago Reply
  4. That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing

    By Therese | 2 years ago Reply
  5. Emily , What a wonderful grace you were given. I have a daughter with same sex attraction, sadly her Catholic Faith isn’t important to her and she is in a relationship with a very nice lady who I like as a person. But as a Catholic mom I have such difficulty accepting this relationship. Everyone says to just accept who she is and I do, I just pray for her to live a chaste life and focus on Jesus. I cannot compromise my faith and what I have been taught, but I want a relationship with my daughter.

    By Theresa | 2 years ago Reply
    • To Emily – I can understand your dilemma and concern for your daughter.

      As a mother I urge you to love your daughter in spite of her decision. Let her know the Church’s teaching on ssa, but love her through the process.

      Pray for her that God will touch her in a way that only He can. A mother’s prayers never go unanswered. God hears our prayers in His own way, and in His own time.
      Trust him.

      You may wish to share the documentary “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” with your daughter. You can view it at the url below.

      Desire of the Everlasting Hills (documentary)
      https://vimeo.com/101135437

      Thanks Emily for a well written article on the sanctity of marriage.

      By Concerned mom | 2 years ago Reply
  6. This is simply a beautiful explanation of the church’s position on same sex marriage. Thank you!

    By Jim | 2 years ago Reply
  7. Hi Emily,
    so that leaves a big question mark with me after reading your wonderful article on married love, very well explained! I must thank you for making that so clear and yet so beautiful!
    But how do you actually live your sexuality? as a celibate? or is this a quest you are discerning as you live your Chrisitan life? personally, I don’t know if I could feel fulfilled until I have discovered my vocation in life. How do you see that?
    Thank you for reading my comment.

    By RoseMarie DeCorby | 2 years ago Reply
    • Hi Rosemarie! Thanks for your question.

      The answer to your question is that a person’s vocation is always going to be personal and unique to them and their circumstances, and this is no different for those of us who experience same-sex attractions. Some of us are called to remain celibate, some of us may be called to the priesthood or religious life, and some of us are even called to marriage (with a member of the opposite sex!). At present, I don’t personally know any same-sex attracted priests or religious, but I do know several celibate same-sex attracted Christians and I know more married same-sex attracted Christians than many people would expect.

      The key to a fulfilling life is a life built on Jesus Christ. Even if we find our vocation, we won’t be truly satisfied in it until we make it the work of and a gift for Jesus. Fulfillment in life isn’t based on finding where we belong as much as it is in finding out to Whom we belong.

      I hope this at least sort of answers your question. Thanks for reading and responding! God bless. +

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story with Christ! This made me all the more excited as my fiance and I prepare ourselves for the sacrament of marriage. Please keep us in your prayers. We will definitely be praying for you, that you continue to fight the good fight in the name of Love! =)

    By Nez | 2 years ago Reply
  9. Hi Emily,

    You write well but I have a couple of questions about your reasoning.

    Guys can physically ‘enter’ each other, and from your article I get the impression that this penetration (and subsequent unification) is the model of Christ’s love for the Church. So why is it that you then say this love language “specifically requires one man and one woman”? Is this a contradiction?

    Thanks

    By Amanda | 2 years ago Reply
    • Hi Amanda,

      The union of one man and one woman is a model of Christ’s love for the Church because it is unifying *and life-giving*. Two men cannot align their bodies in a way that “speaks” a truth of God’s life-bearing communion with us. Only the union between one man and one woman can do that, because only in this union is a life-transmitting language being used. A man enters his wife in a way that has potential to create new life in her — literally. Two men, though they certainly may love and care for each other very deeply, by their very nature as men are incapable of this type of union with one another.

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
      • Thanks Emily! =)

        By Amanda | 2 years ago Reply
  10. Can I ask you for your opinion about the Romans 1:18-32?
    Tnx

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    By Katra | 2 years ago Reply
    • There is an ordered , intrinsic set of moral values as part of being human. When people deny this, or deny God’s teaching, he allows them to continue in their disordered unnatural desires as judgement. Those who recognize the gift of God’s law (as Emily has done) and are seeking to God’s truth, are given the strength of will to resist these temptations. That is what Paul is talking about in Romans.

      By Janelle | 2 years ago Reply
  11. Emily,
    Wow! This is so beautiful! I wish I could take you with me wherever I encounter young adults who seem to perhaps misunderstand Theology of the Body. I want to give out Theology of the Body books to everyone I meet – especially those who are hurting, confused and broken hearted like I once was. And it stinks because I really get timid sometimes about sharing this with them, because I am afraid I will be misunderstood. Do you have any advice as to how I could overcome this fear and explain it in a way that is clear and beautiful?

    By Michelle | 2 years ago Reply
  12. Beautiful!
    I was curious what made you choose to be Catholic? Was there a specific incident or role model? Also, how are those in marriages able to fulfill their duties as husband or wife if they cannot give themselves wholly to their spouse if they may still have same sex attraction from time to time? Wouldn’t a spouse feel cheated on even if they did not act on it?

    By Jan | 2 years ago Reply
    • Hi, Jan!

      My decision to be Catholic was the result of a period of discernment in which I considered several different religions. To put it plainly, inspired by G.K. Chesterton, I decided to be Catholic because Catholicism is true. 🙂 I realize this isn’t an in-depth answer, but my conversion story isn’t one that will fit in a comment box. :/

      As for married individuals who experience SSA; the same-sex attracted people I know who are married LOVE their spouses. In fact, I know at least two couples in which both spouses experience SSA; they love one another very deeply, and the intimate bond they share is very real. Our attractions, believe it or not, don’t completely limit who we can fall in love with, or who we can freely choose to give ourselves to. They love each other, they have happy, healthy children (obviously as a result of their marriage “union”), and if they’d never disclosed it to you, you’d never know they were attracted to the same sex for how much they adore their husband or wife.

      It is an admittedly complicated situation for a person to be in, but not at all impossible. God supplies the grace for each of us to pursue our vocation.

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
    • I will add that it feels no more like “being cheated on” than it would for a couple made up of two opposite-sex attracted people. Being married doesn’t magically make all of your attractions to away, no matter which gender you’re attracted to. Trust is the backbone of any relationship.

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  13. Thank you for your beautiful testimony!!!

    By Stacie | 2 years ago Reply
  14. God bless you, Emily, for your beautiful testimony. As a married woman who struggles with same sex attraction, I always feel my cross is lightened just a bit when I meet other faithful Catholic women going through similr trials- it helps that we can bear one another’s burdens a bit.

    By Stephanie | 2 years ago Reply
  15. This is very beautiful.

    By Deena Rodrigues | 2 years ago Reply
  16. I am confused after reading this. Emily at first I thought I understood that you understood that ssa against God’s commandments. After trying to follow others questions and your replies, it sounds like you are saying that it doesn’t matter if your love is ssa or not. Where did I get confused.
    Thanks

    By Tina | 2 years ago Reply
    • Emily wrote, “The Catholic Church does not approve of same sex romantic relationships.” I don’t believe she ever said that same sex attractions are against God’s commandments. A same sex attractions can be a calling from God. I am usually opposite sex attracted but before my TOB class I felt deep same sex attractions. Each time as I looked deeply into the attraction I felt Mary calling me to drink from her breast and enter her womb. I internalized it mystically. I was being internally prepared to receive TOB into the depth of my soul. I am a woman.

      By Josephine Hamad | 2 years ago Reply
      • The deepest reason why romantic relationships based on attraction to either sex are wrong is because they are causing us to miss the inner calling from God in the attraction itself. The reason why they gave into unnatural lusts in verse 26 was because they knew God but did not glorify Him or thank him verse 21. Notice that they knew God, they didn’t just believe in Him they knew him. When we know God He calls us into his ministry. He may reveal His calling to us in the body of another, this is sacred holy communication from the almighty God and must be treated with the highest respect.

        By Josephine Hamad | 2 years ago Reply
    • Hi,

      I think what Emily meant was that SSA (same sex attractions) are not against God’s commandments, because a feeling is simply a feeling. It’s not right or wrong: it simply exists. It’s morally neutral. There isn’t any passage in the Bible that says “Thou shall not feel attractions to the same sex” but there is a passage which forbids sexual acts in many circumstances (inscest, rape, same-sex acts, adultery, fornication, bestiality, etc) Attractions (no matter to whom or what) are not sins in and of themselves. For example, a married person may feel a deep pull of sexual attraction to someone who isn’t their spouse, but they haven’t sinned just because they had a feeling. If they decided to act on the attraction and cheat, that’s a sin because it is a betrayal of their very nature (Theology of the Body would explain this more – check out Christopher West or Jason’s work)

      By Michelle | 2 years ago Reply
      • Well put Michelle.

        By Josephine Hamad | 2 years ago Reply
        • Thanks, Josephine! 🙂 God bless you!

          By Michelle | 2 years ago Reply
  17. Thank you Emily. This is a very nice and simple explanation of the beauty of these teachings on what marriage is and what it brings to the world is a very real form. May God continue to bless you on your spiritual journey! (And I am glad that you have chosen to be part of this family.)

    By Ruth | 2 years ago Reply
  18. I loved your testimony!! Beautiful exemple!

    By Rafael | 2 years ago Reply
  19. We may be attracted to someone because God is calling us into ministry with that person, or through that person. The attraction can be somewhat sexual because we are being called to procreate with God and God is revealing himself through that person. When we respond to attractions accurately we give God the ability to call us into ministry. We must be wise and pray sincerely to discern the unique calling in each attraction.

    By Josephine Hamad | 2 years ago Reply

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