Is Theology of the Body Silent About Gay People?

I’m posting this here because it has “Theology” in the title…

Basically, everything I’ve ever listened to about Theology of the Body makes me extremely sad. There’s never anything about people who are gay, or have same sex attraction.

I’ve looked online. I’ve googled. It appears to me that the entire Theology of the Body seems to utterly neglect people with same sex attraction.

It seems like heterosexual people are sooooo beautiful, that St. John Paul II can wax on endlessly about it… but, for people that are homosexual, like myself… nothing.

Am I not beautiful too? Am I less beautiful?

How come I don’t have a beautiful and brilliant theology about my body?

I will be a virgin my entire life. I’ll never be married. And, Theology of the Body is all about Marriage. MARRIAGE MARRIAGE MARRIAGE!!! LOOK HOW AWESOME MARRIAGE IS!!!

Well… not for me. :crying:

This is why I can’t stand Theology of the Body. Its audience is limited, and I am not part of its audience. It makes me question who I am whenever my Catholic friends geek out about it.
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Almost everything it says doesn’t seem to apply to me, because I have same-sex attraction.** :bighanky:

I’m sorry you feel isolated by Theology of the Body. As you say, though, you are not part of its audience. You should feel no more isolated by it than other people who live a celibate lifestyle - priests and religious, consecrated singles, divorcees, etc. Noting that St. John Paul II himself is one of such people.

The Church has long held that a celibate life (virginity) is superior to marriage, so something like Theology of the Body is nice for us married folk to hear - that there is value in our lifestyle too.

If you are not called to the vocation of marriage or are not ready for marriage or are waiting to get married no matter who you are, you are called to live a chaste single life. Jesus was celibate and the purest of hearts and the greatest human to ever live, His mother was also a perpetual virgin and pure. Like the previous person posted it is the higher calling in Human life. Saint Paul goes so far to say it should be the preferred way to live because it allows you to be closer to God than married life does. Don’t think that God won’t use a cross like same sex attraction to lead souls to Him and His Church. If anything the Church needs people to witness to self sacrificing love that Jesus shows us on the cross and dying to yourself like He did when He willing took the sins of the world on His back and was tortured to death and most important people we need good and holy witnesses who show obedience to God like Jesus did especially in this world ruled by relativism right now. Also, don’t think the isolation of having same sex attraction and living out a celibate life in obedience to God isn’t going unnoticed by your fellow Catholics if anything you show the world the abandonment Jesus faced on Good Friday. He had thousands of disciples and 12 who He shared the coming of the Kingdom with and who He chose to take the seats of the twelve tribes of Israel and the only people who didn’t abandon Him in His darkest hour were His mother, the teenage Apostle, a female disciple and a few female relatives. It puts the onus on everyone else to make sure you are loved and cared for as a member of the family and frankly I think this is an area where the Church needs to make a lot of improvement on. Hugs!!!

Part of the Theology of the Body is about Chastity which is required for everyone.

All of God’s people married or not married are called to to live a life of Chastity.

Some people have a Cross to bare which requires them to remain single. Many people, gay or straight, married or single have a hard time with Chastity. Even married people.

May The Lord Bless you and help you to find peace.

God Bless

I recommend a book called “The Courage to be Chaste” by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel. It’s a book about living a fulfilling celibate and chaste life that includes gay people in its advice (hence the “courage” in the title). Seriously it will turn your frown upsidedown. :slight_smile:

amazon.com/The-Courage-Chaste-Benedict-Groeschel/dp/0809127059

Disclaimer: I haven’t yet read the actual sermons of ToftB.

However, isn’t the bulk of it about the nature and dignity of man and of woman? Those are true regardless. Same for the calling of chastity.

We are not defined by our attractions. And we all have disordered desires. Our culture has fed us a giant lie in placing so much emphasis on sexual acts and attractions. Our culture is enormously obsessed with sex. It was not meant to be that way. The Catholic Church speaks so much about love and intimacy and complete fulfillment, joy, and peace across the whole spectrum of human experience and relationships.

In other words, the Catholic Church teaches what Jesus did–that human completeness is about the choice of self-giving (sacrificial) love, and more often than not, for the vast majority of human relationships, this is non-sexual. We do not need sexual acts or to dwell on sexual attractions to find that love and completeness; those things are only a small subset of human experience, expression, and relationship.

Let us be defined by our self-giving love of God and neighbor, by the attempt to live out our vocations to the will of God, and not by our tendencies and attractions. That’s the difference between how the Church sees us (with infinite dignity) versus how the culture sees us (as base animals).

I have only a sketchy knowledge of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. However, this topic seems a valuable avenue to explore. I am willing to discuss it, if people will have some patience with my errors. Please be gentle when correcting my mistakes. :blush:

My sense is that ToB is largely about the initial unity of Adam, which was lost when Adam was divided into two (Adam and Eve.) Regaining this male/female unity is something we are all called to do. Marriage is a vital part of reunification, and sex is a valuable part of the process.

So what about homosexuals? They are not attracted to the opposite sex, and sexual congress between two persons of the same gender is not reunifying. Are homosexuals left in the frontier of solitude? Or is a non-sexual communion of persons possible, one which would be reunifying for persons of the same sex?

I will quote from his 14 November 1979 address: “Man becomes the image of God by communion of persons.”

Masculinity and femininity express the dual aspect of man’s somatic constitution. (“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”), and indicate, furthermore, through the same words of Genesis 2:23, they indicate the new consciousness of the sense of one’s own body: a sense which, it can be said, consists in a mutual enrichment. Precisely this consciousness, through which humanity is formed again as the communion of persons, seems to be the layer which in the narrative of the creation of man (and in the revelation of the body contained in it) is deeper than his somatic structure as male and female.
ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/jp2tb9.htm

So, going past the somatic differences between men and women, what kind of communion of persons is possible without sex?

How can virginity be superior to marriage. Virginity is a noble estate yes, but not superior to matrimony. Marriage is so important that it is a sacrament. Virginity is not a sacrament.

I am married, and hold the vocation in high esteem.

But…the Church teaches that celibacy is supreior to the married life. I think it was the council of Trent that made this a clear teaching.

I can try to find the exact quotes for you, but the phrase “objectively suprior” is etched in my memory, because I initially found it confronting as a married person.

The celibate life has one particular characteristic that the married life does not, which is that Christ lived as a celibate, so all celibates share in that to some degree.

religious-vocation.com/

Pope John Paul II , Vita Consecrata, no. 32: “As a way of showing forth the Church’s holiness, it is to be recognized that the consecrated life, which mirrors Christ’s own way of life, has an objective superiority. Precisely for this reason, it is an especially rich manifestation of Gospel values and a more complete expression of the Church’s purpose, which is the sanctification of humanity. The consecrated life proclaims and in a certain way anticipates the future age, when the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven, already present in its first fruits and in mystery,[62] will be achieved and when the children of the resurrection will take neither wife nor husband, but will be like the angels of God (cf. Mt. 22:30)”

Think about the state of humanity and the attitude towards marriage that exists since the ‘sexual revolution’. This is the environment that St JPII began his series of homilies that address human sexuality and its consummation in marriage. We are so thoroughly convinced that sexual expression serves our own happiness and fulfillment rather than serving Gods will, that continence and chastity are genuinely hated. To live the celibate vocation requires us to be thoughtfully counter cultural.

Same sex attraction is certainly a thing and its not fully understood and ‘constitutes a trial’ to people, but to rise above it and live a celibate life is not like accepting a lesser course… its like being an elite athelete who chooses to divert his energy and commitment to a lifestyle and devotes his life to that course. It’s a courageous thing to do. A life of loving sacrifice for Gods will.

In fairness, it’s “Theology of the Body,” not “Theology of the Orientation.” Your body just is “heterosexual,” in the sense that it’s designed for sexual union with a person of the opposite sex, whether or not you personally are attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Thank you both, and everyone really. Everything was quite encouraging to me.

I must say though… as no one in my life actually knows of my attractions, except priests that I tell under the seal of confession… at least at the moment, my struggle is not known. And, I’ve been advised to keep it that way, for the time being.

A very holy priest told me that basically people can be cruel. And, even practicing Catholics that I’m friends with might behave cruelly towards me, because they don’t understand what my life is like… SIGH… Such is my life.

So, while this sounds nice to hear:

[quote= underacloud] The Church has long held that a celibate life (virginity) is superior to marriage, so something like Theology of the Body is nice for us married folk to hear - that there is value in our lifestyle too.
[/quote]

That’s not really how life operates. I know plenty of people getting engaged and getting married. And EVERYONE just pours in all their love and blessings (and they have every right to). I mean, I wish the very best for these people as well.

But, that’s the reality. Perhaps the Church teaches that celibacy is greater than marriage. But, celibate people get neither someone to love them, nor people wishing us well.

In Christianity there are many sayings to the effect of: “Nothing but the blood of Jesus”, or “solely by the love of Jesus” or “The grace of God is sufficient”.

Well, these ACTUALLY apply to me. The only love I’ll ever get is going to be from God. His grace MUST be sufficient for me.

Everyone who gets married, this is not the case for. They have Jesus’ love, plus a companion to constantly be there.

When I am alone and crying to myself, that is when Jesus is all I have. I will never have a person to comfort me.

So… I would say… that celibate people really need to be encouraged a lot more than married people. Married people don’t go through what celibate people do.

So… where’s the 100 part series on how the Church thinks I’m so special? Because married people have that in Theology of the Body. I don’t.

Also… what should I do when someone talks about Theology of the Body with me?

How can I tell a Catholic who LOVES Theology of the Body that, “I don’t want to listen to it, because it makes me sad, because it doesn’t apply to me”.

How can I avoid Theology of the Body (when it comes up), without outing myself as a chaste homosexual? I don’t care to divulge that on a whim. But, it seems short of that, I literally will have to offer up listening to Theology of the Body as suffering. That’s what I did the other day. I offered up listening to it as suffering.

Even for the married, the fulfillment of the ideal is very often illusive and marriage can constitute an enormous trial in life. Staying the course takes great sacrifice also. So please don’t think that being married guarantees the ideal of marriage for every individual.

Granted. I’m not saying that marriage is a cake walk. Obviously it isn’t. But, if those people love each other, that’s got to be pretty great…** I IMAGINE. **

So, in the most charitable way, let me say, that is me imagining what it must be like to be married.

Can you try to imagine life not only without companionship, but without the potential of companionship. I don’t even have a chance that in my life I’ll ever have a loving relationship with another human being… so, every time you feel attracted to someone, that’s something I CAN’T do, or it is sin. Every time you feel like dating… I have no idea what that’s like. I must dismiss all thoughts of ever dating EVER.

They are sin. This is my life. So… again, I say that in the most charitable way: try to put yourself in my shoes.

EDIT:
I mean, is it sinful every time a man is attracted to a woman? Is it always sinful when a woman is attracted to a man? I would imagine the answer to both those questions is: no.

Well, sometimes, I happen to be attracted to men. That’s always sinful, is it not? Are my attractions to other men always sinful?

First it is not ‘sinful’ to experience the attraction. It is ‘objectively disordered’. Being human, all people experience some sort of disordered attraction and to varying degrees.

Granted. I’m not saying that marriage is a cake walk. Obviously it isn’t. But, if those people love each other, that’s got to be pretty great…** I IMAGINE. **

So, in the most charitable way, let me say, that is me imagining what it must be like to be married.

Can you try to imagine life not only without companionship, but without the potential of companionship. I don’t even have a chance that in my life I’ll ever have a loving relationship with another human being… so, every time you feel attracted to someone, that’s something I CAN’T do, or it is sin. Every time you feel like dating… I have no idea what that’s like. I must dismiss all thoughts of ever dating EVER.

They are sin. This is my life. So… again, I say that in the most charitable way: try to put yourself in my shoes.

I’m sensing that you experiencing an understandable sense of grief and I hope that you can take this in the spirit ‘hope’. Hope is one of the three theological virtues along with faith and love.

Our culture has adopted this notion of ‘potential’ and raised it to the stature of hope and it does us no favours. You can see the elevated idea of ‘potential’ behind the contraceptive mentality and the global warming alarmists. It falsely infuses people with a sense of power over life that we don’t have and a sense of individual entitlement over and above our obligation to defer to the common good and the body of humanity.

There is no doubt that same sex attraction constitutes a trial for most people and you see people with enormous hostility towards the Church for her stance against the homosexual lifestyle… but what the Church offers is hope. Hope in the rewards of eternal life and the virtue of obedience and sacrifice. There is no spiritual or psychological value in dwelling on the idea of ‘lost potential’ and that is standard in the counselling of those who deal with great loss… death of a child, paraplegic injury etc. These tragic losses are such an open door to the hope within us and the inspiration that our personal courage represents to others.

I hope and pray that God gives you comfort and grace to endure.

Maybe just say you don’t care for JP II’s TOB? I know people seem to idolize JP II’s TOB, but do people get so enthused about another theologians oeuvre? I mean it’s not a dogma that you have to believe as a Catholic, it’s just one theologians take on sexuality. Take it or leave it as you find helpful. There is another philosopher named Alexander Pruss (maybe a Catholic, I’m not entirely sure) who just wrote a book about sexual ethics called “One Body” that contains a chapter on same sex attraction. It is very similar to “Love and Responsibilty” by JP II (and a deal more clear and comprehensible IMO) He gave a speech based on the book here: why not consult his work?

youtube.com/watch?v=oK7YW79q88s

Hey man I know it’s a struggle to live chastely in your case. But you know we all have crosses to bear. I experience great sadness when mother’s day roles around, or whenever I see other people around me interacting with their mothers in some way. My mother died a few years ago just as I was graduating high school. My mother was the only family member who “got me”. None of my other family gets me. As much as is feasible I try to still not “come out” that my mother died when people talk about mothers, because then I get a bunch of sympathy I don’t want. I know it’s not really the same as your case, but we have to look at all the things that God has blessed us with, but also thank God for the gifts that he has given to others as well. I fear that such a line of thinking can turn into envy…don’t be a glass half empty person, be a glass half full person, and know that the glass will be filled in heaven. Focus on your gifts, and remember that God, out of the millions of children that could have been born to your parents, chose you for happiness with him in heaven forever! How amazing! If it’s in your means, get that book I recommended by Fr. Groeschel, it’s only 110 pages. I liked it quite a bit as a person who forsees perhaps living celibately forever, and I think you might too.

But this doesn’t say celibacy is superior, it says consecrated life is superior. There’s a difference.

First, know that you’re not alone. There are MANY people in MANY walks of life who suffer loneliness, feelings of isolation and being unfulfilled (or like they can never be fulfilled). Your situation is far from unique, and you can seek solace, solidarity, support, and ways to cope from other people who experience similar.

For instance, you have not just other people suffering SSA in similar situations, but consecrated religious; chaste singles (particularly those who cannot date or struggle with even finding dates, much less getting married); widows and widowers; people who suffer from infertility, knowing they can never fill that longing of having their own child; the ostracized and persecuted; all those suffering from great grief and loss, like the loss of a child or only close friend. Then there are also others with other disordered desires, like alcoholics and addicts to not only drugs, but lust, material need and desire, etc.

All of those are real and strong and constitute deep longings that cannot be fulfilled.

Secondly and more important than dwelling on loss and grief and suffering, however, (though the Church has a great deal of support in these areas), please remember that there are other forms of deep love beyond the sexual!

I read your statements about feeling like you can never feel loved, like no one loves you, like you cannot have a companion, and I really just wonder at how much harm our culture has done, that tells us that sex is all that matters. MOST human relationships are not sexual. Friendships and family relationships can be incredibly deep and fulfilling bonds.

Celibate people (particularly those who choose that way of life) have many ways of seeking fulfilling relationships. Many form communities. Perhaps you are even being called to religious life in a community.

I would also encourage you to check out CourageRC.net (I think that’s the address); it is one of several major communities for same-sex attracted people to support each other in living a chaste life.

Third, the Church (often through the Saints) offers many examples and ways to fulfillment and love. One popular approach is the Three Ways: the Purgative, Illuminative, and Unitive. Many of us (myself included) struggle mostly with growing beyond the Purgative Way, where we are seeking to build up our virtues to make virtuous habits that ward off most sin (particularly serious sins), but beyond that stage is much more peace, joy, and fulfillment.

A good spiritual director may be able to help with that, and in many other ways.

So… where’s the 100 part series on how the Church thinks I’m so special? Because married people have that in Theology of the Body. I don’t.

I think the Church as tons to offer, just not labeled specifically as “for same-sex attracted people.” What you are seeking most fundamentally is love, yes? And fulfillment. The fruits of the Spirit (particularly peace and joy). And in the midst of that seeking, you sound like you are looking for help with grief and suffering, a lack of hope, loneliness and desire for companionship, help to ease struggles of temptation and self-control.

The Church has an enormous amount to say about these things–and about the dignity of every person and the full expression of being human, male and female–which would naturally include you and your amazing dignity and worth! The Saints also provide endless examples. There is deep compassion.

I would suggest seeking companionship and loving relationships in other ways (forming deep friendships and family bonds, seeking communities, even support groups or retreat groups). That always helps to ease burdens and pains.

And then look to the Christ’s teachings through the Saints and the Church on how to find the fulfillment, peace, and joy you’re seeking through the common problems of humanity, of which your experience is one (particularly acute) expression.

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