Best Response to Friends/Family with SSA


#1

Hello all!

I searched, and there are a lot of threads about this issue, but I thought it would be nice to consolidate things into a neat little poll (plus our explanations, of course).

Here’s my own situation: For a long time, I had no faith to speak of. I made several gay friends and a family member “came out” to me as well. Most of those friendships lapsed for various reasons, but I have one friend in particular who is just the nicest guy. He doesn’t “flaunt” his lifestyle, and many of his close friends don’t even know that he identifies himself as gay. My point is that he doesn’t make this the center of his existence. Neither does the family member; his own father doesn’t know.

Well, last winter, after much study and reflection, I decided to convert to Catholicism (9/16 was my big day!). I explained to both of them the teachings of the Church regarding homosexuality, meaning that the desires are not sinful (as long as they aren’t voluntarily entertained) but the actions are, and assured them that while I fully agree with the Church, we all have our struggles and I did not think of them as “bad people” or anything like that. I also explained that I wanted to maintain our relationship.

Annnnnnd then the confusion set in. First, the family member was furious with me, but he later calmed down and now things are okay. He isn’t currently in a relationship, so there aren’t really any issues with him right now. The friend was actually raised Catholic and his parents still practice, and he even encouraged me to explore the Catholic Church as an option when I was on my “quest to find religious truth” last winter, so he wasn’t overly upset, but he’s the one I’m now having issues with. We’re pretty close friends, so even though he knows how I feel about the sinfulness of his decision to act on his desires, he still sometimes “fills me in” with what’s been going on in his social life. Now, he doesn’t get into any details, but he’ll talk about a new love interest or something along those lines. I always tried to change the subject without seeming rude, and it was alright. But now he’s in a relationship, and he wants to tell me all about it (again, no private details, but about how excited he is and how they met and what the guy is like and all that). I have NO idea how to respond so that I’m simultaneously conveying the messages that A) I’m with the Church on the sinfulness of any sexual act outside of the context of a valid marriage AND that B) I care deeply about him and acknowledge my own MANY faults. My initial reactions are so mixed…I usually naturally get excited that he’s so happy, and then I’ll realize that I’m smiling while he’s talking, and then I try to stop that but I don’t want to seem cold and holier-than-thou so I try to do some kind of quasi-smiling “I care” face, which is awful, while saying vague things like “I’m happy that you’re happy” while adding mentally “but you’d be so much happier in the Church!” and I just don’t know what to do here…

So that’s got me thinking, and I’d like to see some responses to a poll on this; I’ll try to include the whole range of opinions. All of them would of course include prayer.


What IS the best way you feel someone can respond to a friend or family member who is dealing with (and openly choosing to act upon) same sex attraction?

  1. Explain your beliefs and then inform them that you do not feel you can continue to have a relationship with someone choosing to live that way.

  2. Explain your beliefs and then inform them that although you wish to maintain a relationship, you cannot, in good conscience, listen to any information about this aspect of their life. If they bring it up, interrupt and say that you don’t wish to hear about it.

  3. Explain your beliefs but also explain that you don’t want your relationship to end. Then, if they bring up that part of their life, politely listen while either remaining silent or giving ambiguous responses like the one I used above (“I’m happy that you’re happy”).

  4. Explain your beliefs but then acknowledge that they don’t believe what you do by telling them that you don’t mind if they talk about that aspect of their life if it’s important to them and they still wish to.

  5. Lead by example rather than explicitly laying out how you feel about the matter and let them live their life/talk about their choices whenever they want to in a spirit of “non-judgmentalism.”

  6. Homosexual acts are not wrong; therefore, they shouldn’t be discouraged.


This is a really tough issue. Thanks in advance, everyone :slight_smile:


#2

Welcome to the forums!

Your situation sounds alot like mine. I was away from the Church for 25 years and knee deep in a sinful lifestyle. I made many gay friends during that time, engaged in the lifestyle myself, and encouraged my sister to “explore” lesbianism.

Now I am back to the Church over four years and have experienced many of the things you have mentioned. I have found that it’s very important to be clear that not only does the Church teach that homosexual behavior is sinful, but that you also believe this to be true. If we frame the issue only in terms of Church teaching, it may leave room for ambiguity about how we feel personally about these folks we dearly love.

I had two friends who continued to talk about their partners/love interests. It really became so terribly uncomfortable for me to remain passive during such discussions that I eventually decided to let these friendships go. Because they knew where I stood on the matter, and yet continued to challenge my level of “tolerance”, I felt they were abusing the friendship. Just to be clear, this discomfort is present with hetero friends who want to “discuss” their adulterous or pre-marital sexual relationships as well. It’s a non-descrimination policy on my part. I am not interested in hearing about unrepentent sinful behaviors over and over again.

There is much to be said for living by example and I take this responsibility very, very seriously. However, it is certainly possible to do this from a distance, without putting yourself into situations where you may feel you are compromising your faith or the truth.

When I was still living a life immersed in sin, I would not have wanted to spend alot of time with someone who had clear moral objections to my lifestyle choices. So don’t be surprised that your family and friends are having trouble with your conversion and how that has affected your view of life. The best thing we can do for all those who have not yet been touched by God is pray.


#3

I voted ‘explain & don’t worry’, but that means explain in general situations, not once again in your particular situation. You’ve explained once and I’m sure your friend remembers it well.

I’m Eastern Orthodox. Our priests act very dedicatedly as our spiritual guides. Sometimes non-practicing people go to see them just to get something off their chests. The priests tell them what’s right and wrong, but then just let them talk.

I have a gay friend and I also have friends who engage in various other sinful behavior (heck, so do I, every day, or I wouldn’t have to go to confession, ever! :wink: ) and they know what I think, but still talk to me, and I listen. I don’t feel it’s wrong at all - I’ve explained at least once.

OTOH, if this is making you uncomfortable, then this is what you should say. A real friend is not going to make another friend uncomfortable with his stories. If you tell him like that, I’m sure he’ll stop.

God bless.


#4

I voted “lead by example w/ no encouraging/discouraging”. You already made your position known, so I think your friend would be aware that you certainly aren’t going to encourage him. The only thing that I think would be left to say to him is to not share with you as many stories because it makes you uncomfortable.


#5

I emphasize the don’t worry part. I have gay friends and straight friends. I don’t judge either. I pray that I will see them all in heaven and my prayers are answered 99% of the time so I have very little room for doubt that I will see my gay friends in heaven.


#6

Didn’t vote on the poll because I might take a different approach with different people depending on the relationship.


#7

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