Homosexuality and being a “real” man

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Trends come and go. This we know is true. Whether it be “man hair-buns” (shudder), burly beards and smoking pipes, the metro-sexual, or guys wearing tights hundreds of years ago.

The point? Though things change, what it means to be a man doesn’t.

When we get caught up with caricatures of manhood without focusing on its essence, many people like me are left in the dust.

With same-sex attractions (and even being a bit “girly”) being part of my story, I struggled to relate to those cultural “icons” of manhood. I’m not alone in this. Though I have moved beyond it, many others like me have not, and they are left feeling this: “I don’t fit in with men, and therefore I could never fully be the man (or the Catholic man) that I’m supposed to be.”

This keeps many people like me away from the Church, and it breaks my heart.

I share this because the Catholic Church has transformed my life, and I wish others like me could experience that same sense of love and belonging, and the shared journey towards holiness. However, for as long as those bogus caricatures of manhood are “the standard,” an invisible barrier remains.

I was able to overcome this barrier by shifting my focus from the “look” of man, or the “activity” of man, to the heart of man. I was inspired to do this because of the example of Catholic men in my life who modeled the hearts of real men like Jesus, and his foster father, Saint Joseph.

Their humble example drew me in. The joy they experienced in their pursuit of chastity drew me in. The state of their “interior castles” gave me the desire to pursue Christ and a chaste life above all else. It was not their look, the style of pipe they smoked, their quotes of philosophy, or their projection of a lumber-jack-strengthened “manly-man,” because I couldn’t relate to any of that.

But I could relate to Saint Joseph.

Why? Because Joseph was focused on the state of his heart. He was focused on service. He was focused on sacrifice; the sacrifice of fatherhood and complete abandonment to God’s Will. Joseph poured himself out in order to raise Jesus Christ and love Our Lady.

Joseph was about the heart. He taught me how to trust God’s plan for me. He inspired me to reclaim my identity as a Catholic man.

Every caricature of our world comes up short. For many like me, they stand in the way of our journey back into Catholicism. I share this so that you will know of the potential damage caused by portraying a narrative of manhood that is based on anything less than the example of Saint Joseph.

There are people like me who are waiting to give their lives God in service, but they will not “get there” in their hearts for as long as they perceive themselves to be outside of what it means to be a Catholic man.

With that, I invite you to die to yourself, and take on Saint Joseph as a model, and show this world what being a real man is all about.

You will reach hearts like mine.

____________________

Andrew is a Courage member and Catholic Speaker who presents the message of joyful chastity to churches, schools, and colleges in both Canada and the United States. He is also a contributor to the Pursuit Of Truth Ministries website. He can be reached at info@pursuitoftruth.ca.

14 Comments

  1. I understand the point of the article but I think that we do men, even men with SSA, a disservice when we separate the the soul a body. Men are called to be men with their souls as explained in the article, but also with their bodies. We need to use the Catholic “both, and” in this situation.

    When you say “With that, I invite you to die to yourself, and take on Saint Joseph as a model, and show this world what being a real man is all about.”

    We should also acknowledge that St. Joseph was not just spiritually strong but ALSO physically strong. I think it would do all men well to read the article below to get a better understanding why all men are called by God to be strong in all areas

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/08/13/why-every-man-should-be-strong/

    By Renzo | 1 year ago Reply
    • Hi there – this is Andrew (the author). While physical strength is important, it cannot be the defining point. THAT is what the article is about. Is it something to strive towards? Yes, but even in that case, one’s life circumstance will have to be taken into account. What about the emaciated men of the concentration camps? What about the old men who are laid up because their bodies have failed them? You see, the point is to move beyond the look… not to abandon it, but to move beyond it, so that we can first and foremost realize that the true measure of a man is not found in the muscle that he has, but rather the heart that drives him.

      I hope this make sense. I really hope it makes sense, because even though the art of manliness is definitely a whorthwhile pursuit, there are people who are in my shoes who will NEVER be able to identify with that pursuit, as long as it is packaged in the way it seems to be packed in it’s current “Catholic” caricature – which is not really catholic (universal) at all, but rather a selection of a few small narratives that fit our thoughts of what it means to be a man.

      I’m just hoping this article may draw people to see BEYOND the aspect of physical strength, and into the realm of spiritual strength. And be assured that the best way to reach the hearts of people who are in my shoes is to present them with a model of manhood that they can identify with. That is the missing element in these caricatures, and it shuts people out.

      By Andrew | 1 year ago Reply
      • It just seems as though we are addressing different aspects of manhood – and the reasons for being strong, as listed in the article, make perfect sense. However, if someone believes that they could never fit that reality, for whatever reason, then there will be blockages. This article is written to draw attention to the reality of those blockages, so that we can move beyond them, to give even more men the knowledge that they DO belong in God’s family, as Catholic men, and thus ARE able to grow into a strong man (respective of their circumstance) in the ways described in that article linked above. I would hope that this article may be seen as complimentary to that linked article. I hope that helps clarify my earlier post. I do agree – strength is important, and the desire for strength is important, but the openness of one’s heart to desire that strength (based on how they relate to their models) may be what makes or breaks their journey at any given point.

        Thank you so much for sharing that link and I hope everyone reads it. Blessings in Christ – A

        By Andrew | 1 year ago Reply
      • I very much enjoyed your article Andrew. I agree with you that sometimes people focus more on the physical atributes of a person instead of focusing on what’s most important: the person they are on the inside. Their personality, their beliefs, their heart and soul. It’s not the outer shell that makes the man, it’s his loving heart and fighting spirit that conveys what a real man is

        By K | 1 year ago Reply
  2. St Joseph verses the man of 2015.. are you kidding me ? God created all human beings (straight gay or handicap etc.). All that He creates is good. Therefore, straight and gay people are good and HE wants all to experience love and be loved. So this garbage of single gay men being persuaded to live a life of chastity is absolute garbage. If you enter the priesthood you are called and you must obey your vow of chastity. But who or what priest does?

    Your article is nonsense and you will never be able to seperate your self gratification no matter how hard you try. It is there. It was given to you by Jesus so stop with your insanity and live. Jesus is looking at you in what you do to help others, the poor, the sick and not just praying for them – get out there and do something to help.

    By Catholic Men | 1 year ago Reply
    • Your comment seems almost like borderline heresy. It goes right along with what Martian Luther once said when he said, “Sin and Sin-bath.” If that is the case then why try to be holy? I mean you’re going to fail anyway, why not just give up and indulge yourself in every evil thing? Fact 1: God tests us. We are not meant to have everything that God puts in front of us (see Adam and Eve) Fact 2: Jesus holds us to some pretty high standards. “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” “Whoever so much as looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” “If a man leaves his wife and marries another, he has committed adultery.” “Not all those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter The Kingdom of Heaven, but those who do The Will of My Father.” etc etc.

      Every good thing starts with prayer. That is why we being our week with The Mass. That is why we pray before meals. That is why athletes pray before games.

      God wants all to experience love and to be loved; however, just because He wants it doesn’t mean it happens. 51% of the world’s population is single (the largest percentage in human history). 40 is about to become the average age when people get married. Many people want a relationship that lasts 60 years, but many relationships now-a-days don’t make it past 60 days.

      As for priests, many of them don’t have time for the people in their parish let alone to “not practice chastity.” The average parish is down to less than one priest. I know one priest in Illinois who is taking care of 3 parishes and has to ask for help from associate pastors and retired priests from around the diocese to cover baptisms, weddings, and funerals because he is so overbooked.

      My whole point in writing this is that you should think before you speak. Least you fall into heresy.

      By AL | 1 year ago Reply
  3. I’m also named Andrew and struggle with same sex attractions. I wish I had your confidence that a “gay” man could be manly but I don’t. Maybe some day I will.

    By Drew | 1 year ago Reply
  4. Thank you for such a great article. In the work I do with young men whilst not abandoning the heart of my mission which is wilderness & spiritual survival, I hope that I will always be able to go “beyond the look” as you put it in your comment, and to journey with them into the strong and fearless heart of Our Lord.

    By Will | 1 year ago Reply
  5. First of all I want to commend the author on a well written piece. I do believe it is the heart and soul of a Catholic Man that makes him a real man. I think maybe some of yhe stronger things you mayn have come across regarding what a “real Catholic man” are direct response to what many men feel has been an effeminization of a Catholic Christian mans role in the churchi do realize that there are many men who have more of a gentle spirit but I think quite often the image of a meek and mild Christian man is exactly what has turned off so many secularists. We need to get to then root of what being the Man that God created us to be really means in yhe Christian sense.

    By Alonzo DelVillar | 1 year ago Reply
  6. Drew, ur words hit me. I appreciate ur openness and being real. Ur words will help me view people with homosexual inclinations with more understanding and mercy.

    By Bryan | 1 year ago Reply
  7. Hi! First, I want to say thank you Andrew (author) for being so strong in your pursuit of the faith and the true Catholic lifestyle. Thank you for choosing to be celibate despite the difficulties and temptations it must pose for you. I totally agree with you in that so many times “manliness” is portrayed as being about ONLY about physical fitness and appearance instead of the heart and soul. In the end, it is the heart and soul that really matter for someone to be a man, not having a stereotypical manly figure. I have a good guy friend who I would consider to be way more of man (even though he has multiple chronic illnesses and so can’t be as physically fit), than most of the guys I know with tons of muscle. You are so right in saying that while it is good to be physically healthy (same for girls, if I might add), one’s manliness doesn’t hinge on this factor. Thank you again, Andrew, I will keep you in my prayers, and I ask that if you have time, maybe you mention me too!
    As for the person called “Catholic Men,” what a rude response you had to this article. Andrew is following what the Catholic Church teaches and so he should be honored for doing so, not mocked because he isn’t acting the way you or anyone else who thinks similarly believe he should be acting. In regards to mention of self-gratification, with all due respect, you are wrong. Though it is hard to master our desires, it is what we are all called to do (in respect to all things, not just chastity). Lastly, as sad, awful, and horrendous as it is to see that so many priests have engaged in sexual activity, not all have. In fact, many haven’t and retain their vow of chastity. It is not right to say that all priests don’t practice chastity just because some have made terrible mistakes. Also, if you have been hurt by a priest in this way, I am so, so very sorry for you. I can’t imagine the pain and disillusionment it would cause.

    By Liv | 1 year ago Reply
    • I agree! Any guy who knows and acts with self-discipline whether it’s with money, eating healthy, excercizing, praying, holding back from looking, listening to, or going places you know are too much temptation, a hard worker, is clean, loving, kind, & caring in word & action toward women & all people-IS A MANLY MAN!!!

      By Ione | 1 year ago Reply
  8. “I share this so that you will know of the potential damage caused by portraying a narrative of manhood that is based on anything less than the example of Saint Joseph.”

    Beautiful. Thank you for this article, Andrew.
    As a young Catholic woman, I look for young men that best resemble St. Joseph’s amazing virtues. I don’t look for someone who can fix a toilet (I can fix a toilet!), pump iron, or win an arm wrestling match.

    By Rebecca | 1 year ago Reply
  9. Being gay is not a choice. Why can’t we all just accept and love others without trying to change them? Asking someone to be something they are not will not last a life time.

    By Shaunna | 1 year ago Reply

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