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Anna Anonymous wrote:

Hello,

I am a 19-year-old University student studying to become a doctor. My dream is to work in impoverished areas of the world. I keep getting mixed answers to this question every time I ask, so I am hoping you could send me a clear answer to my question.

I realized, at the age of 10, I wasn't like all of my other girl friends, mainly because I never had the crushes on boys that my other friends were having. Throughout High School, I dated guys but it never lasted. I couldn't develop a deeper interest or relationship with them because of a dark secret I am hiding: I'm attracted to other women.

I know the Catholic Church frowns upon these feelings and that if I don't get rid of these feelings, I will probably go to Hell. I've never actually been with another woman but I cannot see myself spending the rest of my life with a man just because it is the right thing to do.

Nevertheless, I do not want to be without love for my entire life. I've prayed but these feelings still exist. Every priest I have talked to has a different opinion which further confuses me. I have been suicidal in the past because I know that these feelings are wrong and that I will probably have to spend the rest of my life alone because being with another woman would be even worst than just having feelings for another woman. I feel like, no matter what I do, I will go to Hell.

I need a definite answer. I need to know:

  • Am I really going to Hell?
  • Should remain alone, or
  • Should allow myself to fall in love with a woman?

I've always been a strong Catholic but I've been hiding this secret for much too long and need help.

I hope you can assist me.

Sincerely,

Anna

  { Am I going to Hell for these thoughts and feelings and because I am attracted to other women? }

Mary Ann replied:

Anna,

In the old days, a good counselor could help you find out the reason for these feelings, which are a frequent part of development of adolescence but which some people get sort of stuck in.

Nowadays, however, most counselors would help you accept your feelings and toss whatever moral beliefs you have about them.

First, feelings are not evil. An attraction is not evil. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, an attraction is a feeling, and one should not deliberately fantasize about sexual activity with the object of one's attraction, or engage in it outside of God's plan which homosexuality does.

So you are not going to Hell for your attractions!

  • Why do you have the attractions?

One of the best authorities (Gerard van den Aardweg - get his books) says they are the result of many circumstances from early life (parental input, peer relations, abuse) but don't get solidified until late adolescence. He also says they come from a lack of real and close same-sex friendships.

The friend concept then gets idealized and worshipped externally. In short, you seek your own self in the other. That need feels very strong and powerful. Behind the need may be a need for a good mother or father; or perhaps behind it [the need] lies damage to one's sexuality from incest or abuse.

There is also the problem that girls are sexualized early today, before they have the chance to have the intense girl friendships that used to be a standard feature of early adolescence. Most girls don't really like this sexualization, but don't know any different, and then look for human intimacy later with girlfriends (but by this time their sexuality has awakened). The end result is the natural order of development gets reversed, and people confuse intense emotional friendship with lesbianism. All these things can be healed, though sometimes the healing takes a good while and is difficult! The important thing is that you know the basic truth:

  1. God made you a woman
  2. God loves you, and
  3. God has a plan for you.

If these desires are troublesome to you, by all means take measures to investigate their cause with a good Catholic therapist, and meanwhile find a Courage group to support you and provide you with same sex friendships on your journey.

  • Read the Catechism, which respects the depths of your feelings, honors your equal humanity, and encourages you to live as a daughter of God.
  • Also, check out Dr. Van den Aavweg's books — he writes mostly about men, but it can be enlightening about women and
  • Practice being a good friend to other women, regardless of your feelings.
  • Stay close to your friend Jesus in the Eucharist — He heals through the sacraments.

Thank you for your question.

Mary Ann

Bob replied:

Anna,

I have a very good friend who is a Catholic and also a chaste-living, homosexually-oriented person. He helped to start a Courage group in his area for support. I could forward your e-mail to him if you would like. He may be a good person to relate to. Let me know if you are interested.

You can live a faithful life, confident that God loves you and will bring you home to Heaven — and have joy in your heart if you choose. It saddens me that you often feel suicidal and that you feel you are essentially going to Hell.

God didn't make you for such a destiny. You are His child and He loves you! He will help you with your struggles. You will need support from others who share similar stories and burdens but together you can do this. Please, don't give up on your faith or hope for a joy-filled life.

Sex and marriage are temporary and don't ultimately bring people that joy that is eternal. God is asking you to look beyond your struggles. While I am a married man now, in Heaven I won't be. You may be called to live a different kind of life then you expected but I know you can find happiness.

You talked about being a doctor. Perhaps becoming a healer will be your own healing. While you may not have answers right away Anna, you are precious and God has a plan for you.

I will be praying for you with my family all through Lent.

Thanks for writing us. I wish you many blessings.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Eric replied:

Hi Anna,

You are manifestly not going to Hell for what you are feeling!

Temptations come, temptations go; what causes us to go to Hell is what we do with them and even when we do give in, there is hope in repentance.

This is a very difficult situation and given the confusion of gender roles in our society and conflicting information, it's not surprising that you find yourself caught in this. The Church does acknowledge that:

  • same-sex attraction is intrinsically disordered, and
  • same-sex sexual acts are intrinsically evil

but she has mercy and compassion on those afflicted by (SSA) same-sex attraction. You may wish to consult a therapist that specializes in same-sex attraction and reparative therapy.

For a therapist referral, please call the:

National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) [About Us]
[Toll-free number: 1-888-364-4744 or E-mail us]

A list of registered therapists will be given to you or you can e-mail NARTH @ contactus@therapeuticchoice.com and tell them where you live and they will mail you referrals in your area.

You might look for books and other material by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and Fr. John Harvey. It is possible in some (but not all) cases to mitigate same-sex attraction with enough therapy.

If you strive for chastity, you cannot only be saved but merit reward in Heaven by your heroic perseverance so don't be discouraged.

Eric

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