I am a joyfully married Catholic man with an ever-increasing number of children. From childhood, I have experienced a strong attraction to males, and this attraction has not ever really gone away. Unlike many men with SSA, I am also attracted to women, most particularly to my wife.
When I married my wife, I was in a place of great freedom, in terms of sexual sin. I was open with her about my attractions and my past, of course. Nevertheless, only three people (immediate family members) besides her knew my story, since SSA is most definitely a sinful disposition that loves to hide. Over time, little by little, I fell back into a pornography addiction after we were married. My wife knew something about this, but I only let her in partly. My attitudes toward myself became completely covered in shame.
Recently, God has been pulling me out of that mire. I’ve begun to pray for an hour daily, and spend time with my heavenly Father. (Men with SSA, in particular, need one-on-one time with their Dad!) I have come fully into the light with a number of brothers and sisters in Christ who are not my family members. It is SUCH a relief and a blessing that I don’t have to hide!
But, in some sense, I still do. Among single people, there are an increasing number of people with SSA who are fully open about their struggles and their commitment to live chaste lives. (I’m thinking of people like Wesley Hill and Eve Tushnet, among others). These people have helped to show me that an attraction is not shameful, that there’s nothing wrong with being openly broken. In the meantime, however, I find that our culture – even, to some extent, Catholic culture – has only one category for me: since I am married to a woman and attracted to men, I must be a closeted homosexual that is wreaking havoc on my wife and children.
This social judgment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, I think. Society has a notion of you, and you live up to it.
But not when you have God’s light in your life. In God’s light, I have realized that my temptations are nothing to be ashamed of, and hiding them is just plain stupid. Ideally, I think, married men who struggle with same-sex attraction would be just as open with these struggles as married men who struggle with ogling women in advertisements. It’s not something you shout from street corners, but you would share it readily in the right circumstances.
As it is, I think there are testimonies out there from married men who struggled with SSA, but it’s always in the past tense: “I used to be attracted to men, but now my wife and I are the whole world to each other.” Yeah, right. (OK, maybe I’m cynical, but that just seems to neat and tidy an ending.)
I expect that some people will tell me something like this: Imagine you “went public” about this in some form, and your kids found out someday? Imagine how ashamed your wife and kids would feel to be associated with you? Do they deserve that shame?
But these objections miss the point! It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a temptation, like any other. Would you be ashamed if your children found out that you once wanted to shoplift something? That you once felt a strong urge to strangle a driver who cut you off? What’s the difference between these cases and SSA?