Trouble understanding SSA

I’m referring to Same Sex Attraction.

About a month ago I got confirmed and it was pretty awesome. But increasingly as confirmation came I constantly thought about vocations and I still am, and I read about all these SSA posts saying that they should remain celibate. I do however have trouble understanding what it truly is because I don’t think I have this state of mind, but then my mind switches gears to believing I do. I think its more of a mind playing game. It’s because I’ve really felt a strong call to maybe even a priest and have had many visual signs and I keep praying to God what my vocation could be and i feel still called in the same direction and I have a feeling that I’m just completely overreacting to this situations.

I think it started in 7th grade when I found same sex videos and pictures on the internet. I think that was like only a couple of nights though. I thought that was really weird though now that I think back to it. I actually was talking to this girl I really liked and I almost asked her out but I didn’t because I chickened out because this other guys was talking to her! I think that’s what started the quick sexual thoughts, but I’ll tell you more about that later. Through middle school I never liked guys. I actually really liked 3 or 4 girls through this time. Now skip to freshman year.

I started looking more at regular videos and images and then I started to look at same sex videos and images. The thing is I would be disgusted afterwards. I don’t know what that meant but I really don’t really count on it meaning anything. This lasted on and off til the tenth grade. We went on homecoming with this girl I really liked and I also had my faith retreat which opened my life to less bad things (i.e. drinking). After march I stopped looking at these things because it was like once a month after freshman year and I knew God didn’t want me doing these things. The thing is though, I’m totally fine. Still no attraction at all to men.

The thing that bothers me though is that I keep having to fight off the same sex and regular images from when I did do these things but it’s not because I like them, it’s because of like a compulsive disorder from them. I think, OK let’s not think about this but then I do. Although it’s much less frequent now, its still now and then.

I also thought it was weird that the people were talking about how like they have temptations from resisting these attractions and that’s definitely not me. I have certain weird moments where certain situations remind of these videos I watched but then I just look it as normal and then it goes away, for good basically.

I’m sorry this is kind of long but my question is… Does it seem like that I have SSA? I really can’t tell.

Grace & Peace!

Biblebrother, the only person who can really answer that question is you–but based solely on what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound like you’re attracted to folks of the same sex.

I’ve read a number of stories of opposite-sex attracted guys who, because of the intensity of their porn-watching habits, developed an interest in same-sex pornography. This wasn’t reflective of their actual sexual orientation, though–it had more to do with the bio-chemical effects that pornography has on the brain. While our brains are oriented to find sexual novelty pleasurable, the sheer glut of images available on pornographic websites tends to overwhelm the brain and lead it to seek more and more novel stimuli. It wasn’t so much that these guys were attracted to the images they saw: they were attracted to the novelty of those images. When they eliminated porn consumption from their internet diet, they found that their interest in same-sex porn also waned, and they were able to affirm that their attraction was not to folks of the same sex, but to the novelty of same-sex porn.

It’s also often the case that people like to think in strict binary terms: heterosexual-homosexual, for instance. And we often learn to think in those terms, too, because that’s how we’re taught. We come to view some things as normal or normative or abnormal or other based on our internalizations of these binaries. Some of these binaries are very useful, some are useful only to a point, and some are not so useful at all. Where human sexuality is concerned, the fundamental human longings for intimacy and affection are so much more complex and compelling than a question like “do you fancy men or women” can ever actually admit. That’s not to say that I believe that sexuality is a sliding scale–but it is to say that the more reductive our thinking tends to be when it comes to understanding something as richly human as our sexuality, the more likely we are to get it wrong. I’m a guy who’s attracted to other guys. But I’d be lying to you if I told you that there weren’t times when I’ve found a woman very compellingly attractive. I don’t find that being honest with myself about such things is troublesome or confusing or even unusual: because it doesn’t so much challenge my understanding of my affections as much as it enriches that understanding. Do you see what I’m saying?

Regardless. As you put more and more distance between yourself and your porn-consuming days, I’ve a hunch that the things you were feeling at the time and any residual feelings you might have will become more comprehensible as related to the porn, but not related to the actual drift of your affections. And given what you write here, it seems like that process is already happening.

Because one of the most helpful things we can do when we’re in the midst of emotional turmoil and trying to find ourselves in the storm of sometimes competing and confusing passions is what it looks like you’re beginning to do here: taking a moment to quiet ourselves and take an emotional inventory, looking with full and compassionate honesty at what it is you actually feel and/or desire. Once this is done, you can go through your inventory and say, “This feels authentic, I recognize myself here; this feels confused; this feels transitory; this is something I need to work on; this is something I can let go of; this is something I can cherish; this will help me to be the person I’m meant to be; this I don’t know what to do with; etc.” Compassionate honesty is the key. And once you’re done, you can offer it all to God in prayer, even (especially!) the confusing bits and the unresolved bits. And you can move on.

Wishing you good things on your journey!

Under the Mercy,
Mark

All is Grace and Mercy! Deo Gratias!

Whatever other people might say, I don’t think “SSA” or “homosexuality” or “bisexuality” is a real category that describes people. It doesn’t have clear boundaries and meaning like, for example, the category of “having blue eyes”.

Lots of men experience some level of attraction to other men. This may be a romantic or a sexual attraction, or it may be something like enjoying looking at other men naked or even looking at gay porn. There is no hidden meaning behind doing such things. It’s just a human activity – in this case, a sinful human activity, very much to be shunned. But it doesn’t mean that there is some cataclysmic truth about yourself that you must admit to.

I would encourage you to be extremely honest with yourself – and with at least one other person you trust – about your attractions and actions, whatever they are. That way, the secrets don’t have power over you. Aside from that, no worries.

Now, if you do end up marrying, and you’re still dealing with this stuff, that would be something to tell your wife. But for now, just take a deep breath and say, “Thank you, Father, for having mercy upon me, a sinner.”

God bless you!

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