which is worse?


#1

I asked this in the ask and apologist section also, because I really think I need a priest’s guidance with these issues, but just in case I don’t get an answer there I thought I might ask here as well, for advice if you have any and for prayers too… I don’t know if I would be brave and humble enough to ask someone IRL so this is kind of a last resort, my next option is to just switch churches.

I struggle with a lot of grave-matter sins. I have same-sex attraction (I used to be a part of Courage) and I struggle with depression and mental health, and I am a recovering cutter.

This is making a REALLY long story of struggle a lot shorter, but after falling away from the Church almost completely, and committing a long list of mortal sins, two days ago I went to Confession for the first time almost 6 months and I’m wanting to make an effort in my faith again.

But I discovered in the past several months, through counseling, that if I stop repressing my desires and act out sexually that my urge to cut myself is reduced drastically. And right now, with all the stress and fear of lost friendships and so much confusion around my faith and my identity, I need to do SOMETHING to reduce the tension and heartache.

So I was wondering, what’s worse? If I cut or if I act out sexually? How do other people deal with sublimating or redirecting sexual energy, because when I try I always seem to end up hurting myself instead and I honestly feel like I am standing on the a very thin balance beam when it comes to my mental health and my faith, and I feel like I am being required to choose between the two.


#2

Given you "struggle" with SS attraction seems to lessen the culpability and therefore may not make the action a mortal sin. Although the act is a grave matter, the temptation prevents you from having "deliberate consent". If a priest confirms this, then I'd not stress about that.

You must have deliberate consent, full knowledge, & grave matter. You may not have deliberate consent.

God Bless!


#3

[quote="wayward, post:1, topic:296879"]
I asked this in the ask and apologist section also, because I really think I need a priest's guidance with these issues, but just in case I don't get an answer there I thought I might ask here as well, for advice if you have any and for prayers too... I don't know if I would be brave and humble enough to ask someone IRL so this is kind of a last resort, my next option is to just switch churches.

I struggle with a lot of grave-matter sins. I have same-sex attraction (I used to be a part of Courage) and I struggle with depression and mental health, and I am a recovering cutter.

This is making a REALLY long story of struggle a lot shorter, but after falling away from the Church almost completely, and committing a long list of mortal sins, two days ago I went to Confession for the first time almost 6 months and I'm wanting to make an effort in my faith again.

But I discovered in the past several months, through counseling, that if I stop repressing my desires and act out sexually that my urge to cut myself is reduced drastically. And right now, with all the stress and fear of lost friendships and so much confusion around my faith and my identity, I need to do SOMETHING to reduce the tension and heartache.

So I was wondering, what's worse? If I cut or if I act out sexually? How do other people deal with sublimating or redirecting sexual energy, because when I try I always seem to end up hurting myself instead and I honestly feel like I am standing on the a very thin balance beam when it comes to my mental health and my faith, and I feel like I am being required to choose between the two.

[/quote]

I will keep you in prayer. It is a cross to carry to be sure.

I can only imagine how trying this all is for you (and I know it's much easier for me to say than for you to do), but I would encourage you to try not to follow the "Which sin is worse?" train of thought. As a general rule, that's not very productive. You know that both are wrong. You are working at eliminating both from your life. You may stumble and need to seek forgiveness. And whenever that happens, God will be there to help you get back up and keep going.

Struggling with sin is hard. I think that's something we all have to deal with. Just take it day by day. If you are able to resist temptation just this one time, then the next time, it is that much easier to do the same. God will bless and multiply your efforts to remain true to Him. There may be ups and downs, but over time the general trajectory will start to improve.

Do not underestimate the power of prayer and the sacraments. Go to Mass as often as you can (even daily if that is possible). Go to Confession as often as you need to (even if that's a couple times a week). Let a prayer to God be the first words on your heart when you wake up and the last words as you drift to sleep. That's the only way through these hard times.


#4

could you try a sport?:shrug::slight_smile:

:gopray2:


#5

Any counseling that you receive must be in accord with your faith. The counselor essentially advised you to commit mortal sin, and engage in behavior which may place you at risk for STDs or other serious problems. I would strongly advise you to discuss this with your confessor, as your spirit is leading you correctly, but many other worldly factors are lined up against you. I am praying for you.


#6

Sometimes homosexuality can just be a phase, but you don't sound young enough for that to be the case. But, eh, I don't really know what you can do. :shrug:

[quote="po18guy, post:5, topic:296879"]
Any counseling that you receive must be in accord with your faith. The counselor essentially advised you to commit mortal sin, and engage in behavior which may place you at risk for STDs or other serious problems. I would strongly advise you to discuss this with your confessor, as your spirit is leading you correctly, but many other worldly factors are lined up against you. I am praying for you.

[/quote]

In fairness, the guy was only doing his job and what he said was most likely true.


#7

[quote="Regular_Atheist, post:6, topic:296879"]
Sometimes homosexuality can just be a phase, but you don't sound young enough for that to be the case. But, eh, I don't really know what you can do. :shrug:

In fairness, the guy was only doing his job and what he said was most likely true.

[/quote]

However, it is only deferring the crisis point to another time, and letting a life go on with simmering despair. Both behaviors may very well point to a common cause. Why not identify and address the cause?


#8

I would just start with the forgiveness and grace of Jesus. You have a heavy burden; give some of this struggle to God.

I look at it this way; cutting is physically destructive to your own body and could kill you if you went far enough. It’s hard to continue this faith walk of yours if you are dead. I’d keep that under control first.

As for Same-Sex feelings, I’m of the opinion that whatever sin present in the subject, we spend too much time on the topic. Homosexuality, when practiced with mutual respect and monogamy the church expects of a heterosexual couple, is at worst loving the wrong person too much in my opinion. If God considers this a sin, I have to think this is not the kind of thing He is most worried about.

I by no means want to divert you from your Catholic faith. But, if you find that you are truly homosexual and you can’t reconcile that with your Catholic faith, there are churches out there that fully support gay people as whole humans created in God’s image. I’d hate to see you lose your faith in God over what possibly is the way you were made, however inconvenient.


#9

What a horrible position to be in.

I feel for you.

And you have my admiration for being able to be honest and speak so candidly.

My 2 cents: If you personally see the homosexual act as disordered then seeking relief there isn't going to help you feel any better deep down.

And it's the deep down issues that are ultimately causing you to cut.

That and the fact that cutting can be addictive. Have you spoken to a doctor?

I don't really know what to say: it's as if you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

You've gotta find someone who will both challenge and comfort you: a priest or doctor (and preferably both) who can really help.


#10

Oh, what a heartbreaking post. I am so sorry you are feeling juxtaposed like this.

You are using cutting to deal with your emotions, more specifically you're using the chemicals that are released when you cut your body. It's like an addiction. It is a coping mechanism that many turn to when they find themselves without hope or the appropriate coping tools.

Know first and foremost that you are:

  1. Not alone in this
  2. Not "damaged goods", a "freak" of some kind or any other derogatory title
  3. A work in progress, like the rest of us
  4. Worthy. I repeat: You are worthy of love and Grace and forgiveness.

What you need, and what I hope your counselor can give you, is a different coping mechanism. Something you can turn to instead of cutting or acting out your SSA. You need another tool to use. IT WILL TAKE TIME to learn how to use the new tool. Give yourself time and prayer and forgiveness.

Pray about this specifically, please. Pray that God will give you something else to use in lieu of cutting, something that will give you the same release.

Try the Jesus prayer : "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, Have mercy on me- a sinner". Make this your mantra when you are struggling with the urge to cut. I have found that in times of terrible emotion, when I am so upset I can't even compose myself for a moment to pray- just repeating this prayer in my head a few times will calm me, and then when I can do it out loud i do so, over and over.....and it brings me peace.

Something else that has helped in the same way- first as an internal mantra, and then out loud if possible: "Jesus, have mercy on me, grant me your peace". This has worked when I couldn't even manage the Jesus prayer, couldn't even squeeze out that one petition. It's shorter, and in times of desperation He WILL respond to it. God wants to share his peace with you.

The Confessional isn't a one trip destination. We go back because we continue to sin.
We ALL continue to sin. Remember this! Take it easy on yourself, and just keep trying.

I will pray for you.


#11

[quote="PJH_74, post:8, topic:296879"]
I would just start with the forgiveness and grace of Jesus. You have a heavy burden; give some of this struggle to God.

I look at it this way; cutting is physically destructive to your own body and could kill you if you went far enough. It's hard to continue this faith walk of yours if you are dead. I'd keep that under control first.

As for Same-Sex feelings, I'm of the opinion that whatever sin present in the subject, we spend too much time on the topic. Homosexuality, when practiced with mutual respect and monogamy the church expects of a heterosexual couple, is at worst loving the wrong person too much in my opinion. If God considers this a sin, I have to think this is not the kind of thing He is most worried about.

I by no means want to divert you from your Catholic faith. But, if you find that you are truly homosexual and you can't reconcile that with your Catholic faith, there are churches out there that fully support gay people as whole humans created in God’s image. I'd hate to see you lose your faith in God over what possibly is the way you were made, however inconvenient.

[/quote]

The advice you have given in your second and third paragraph is not given with the authority of the Catholic Church. It is your opinion. All things are possible with God, and with the right spiritual director, and perhaps the direction of the Catholic organization known as Courage, the OP can find grace and peace.

Sadly, many Christian churches are turning away from the moral teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the disunification of the Church just gets worse.


#12

[quote="Dorothy, post:11, topic:296879"]
The advice you have given in your second and third paragraph is not given with the authority of the Catholic Church. It is your opinion. All things are possible with God, and with the right spiritual director, and perhaps the direction of the Catholic organization known as Courage, the OP can find grace and peace..

[/quote]

I'm well aware, which is why I stated it was my opinion. But you see it's also easier to live in a comfortable black and white world. God is also in the cracks the we fall into.

[quote="Dorothy, post:11, topic:296879"]
Sadly, many Christian churches are turning away from the moral teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the disunification of the Church just gets worse.

[/quote]

What's interetsting is that the passages quoted most often against homosexuality almost invariably do not come from Jesus's direct teachings (the Gospels) nor anyone who personally knew Jesus. They come from the old testament or the writings of Paul. Putting the messier discussion of translation issues, cultural relivence, and other possible meanings; I invite you to take a trip into a large list of other things the Bible says we should or shouldn't do that we either ignore or would flatly find immoral now a days. You might understand better why I think what I do.


#13

[quote="PJH_74, post:12, topic:296879"]
I'm well aware, which is why I stated it was my opinion. But you see it's also easier to live in a comfortable black and white world. God is also in the cracks the we fall into.

What's interetsting is that the passages quoted most often against homosexuality almost invariably do not come from Jesus's direct teachings (the Gospels) nor anyone who personally knew Jesus. They come from the old testament or the writings of Paul. Putting the messier discussion of translation issues, cultural relivence, and other possible meanings; I invite you to take a trip into a large list of other things the Bible says we should or shouldn't do that we either ignore or would flatly find immoral now a days. You might understand better why I think what I do.

[/quote]

Thankfully, we in the Catholic Church have the God-given teaching authority that teaches infallibly with regard to matters of faith and morals. We don't have to guess what is meant and what we would like to think certain passages of Sacred Scripture mean.

If we cave into areas in which we rationalize, we are using our mind not the mind of the Lord. With God all things are possible. We all have various and different kinds of crosses to carry. I know many holy men and women with same sex attraction that live holy, fruitful, and chaste lives. How can they do that? With the grace of God that they willingly accept.


#14

Wayward, I will keep you in my prayers. Please remember that you are not alone in your struggles. There are many of us who struggle with same sex attraction, and everyone who wants to live according to God's will struggles with some particular sin.

I strongly encourage you to find a good Catholic therapist/psychologist. You can ask your priest for a recommendation, call your diocese head office for a recommendation, or you can go online to www.catholictherapists.com to do a search.

Cutting is a serious behavior/addiction and you will need regular professional assistance.


#15

[quote="po18guy, post:7, topic:296879"]
However, it is only deferring the crisis point to another time, and letting a life go on with simmering despair. Both behaviors may very well point to a common cause. Why not identify and address the cause?

[/quote]

So, both homosexuality and depression share the same causes? :rolleyes:


#16

Folks, can the arguments over homosexuality be taken to another thread? This soul has come here asking for help/prayer. Let’s not derail that cause with our bickering, please.

Please.


#17

thanks to those who are offering prayers. I'm just so tired of hurting, and it seems like the wisdom of the world really clashes with the wisdom of the Church in this case.

I mean, we don't know for SURE that there's a heaven, so why not do what it takes to be happy in THIS life?

But if there IS a heaven, then I'm separating myself from HIM and how could any amount of happiness in this life be worth that?

I do agree with and believe in Church teaching. But I'm not strong enough to keep going like this. I don't really ever see my SSA going away. I'm willing to live a life of celibacy for Him, if it's His will, and I guess if I have to be alone in that I will be, but I don't understand why God would make a social creature like myself and then destine her to live her life in isolation, never having a family of any sort to give herself to. It doesn't make sense to me even a little.


#18

[quote="wayward, post:17, topic:296879"]
thanks to those who are offering prayers. I'm just so tired of hurting, and it seems like the wisdom of the world really clashes with the wisdom of the Church in this case.

I mean, we don't know for SURE that there's a heaven, so why not do what it takes to be happy in THIS life?

But if there IS a heaven, then I'm separating myself from HIM and how could any amount of happiness in this life be worth that?

I do agree with and believe in Church teaching. But I'm not strong enough to keep going like this. I don't really ever see my SSA going away. I'm willing to live a life of celibacy for Him, if it's His will, and I guess if I have to be alone in that I will be, but I don't understand why God would make a social creature like myself and then destine her to live her life in isolation, never having a family of any sort to give herself to. It doesn't make sense to me even a little.

[/quote]

I think you did a beautiful job of summarizing the faith issues around this topic. Faith in the grey areas is by no means easy. I pray that you find the wholest personhood and relationship to God you can in your walk with Him.


#19

[quote="wayward, post:17, topic:296879"]
thanks to those who are offering prayers. I'm just so tired of hurting, and it seems like the wisdom of the world really clashes with the wisdom of the Church in this case.

I mean, we don't know for SURE that there's a heaven, so why not do what it takes to be happy in THIS life?

But if there IS a heaven, then I'm separating myself from HIM and how could any amount of happiness in this life be worth that?

I do agree with and believe in Church teaching. But I'm not strong enough to keep going like this. I don't really ever see my SSA going away. I'm willing to live a life of celibacy for Him, if it's His will, and I guess if I have to be alone in that I will be, but I don't understand why God would make a social creature like myself and then destine her to live her life in isolation, never having a family of any sort to give herself to. It doesn't make sense to me even a little.

[/quote]

As a 44 year old woman who lived as a Lesbian for 20+ years and has converted to Catholicism and lived a chaste life for the last 2 years, I urge you not to give in to the view of God's call that you will be miserable. I am loved by my friends and I am able to serve god and His church in many ways. You, and everyone else, are called to holiness, not loneliness. Seek God's will, strive for holiness. Don't try to theorize or fantasize the rest of your life--you can't know what God has planned for you.


#20

[quote="wayward, post:17, topic:296879"]
thanks to those who are offering prayers. I'm just so tired of hurting, and it seems like the wisdom of the world really clashes with the wisdom of the Church in this case.

I mean, we don't know for SURE that there's a heaven, so why not do what it takes to be happy in THIS life?

But if there IS a heaven, then I'm separating myself from HIM and how could any amount of happiness in this life be worth that?

I do agree with and believe in Church teaching. But I'm not strong enough to keep going like this. I don't really ever see my SSA going away. I'm willing to live a life of celibacy for Him, if it's His will, and I guess if I have to be alone in that I will be, but I don't understand why God would make a social creature like myself and then destine her to live her life in isolation, never having a family of any sort to give herself to. It doesn't make sense to me even a little.

[/quote]

Each of us has our cross(es) to bear, and you are bearing your heavy cross well. Saint Augustine said that we are not home on this earth, rather, that we are trudging along a dusty path that leads to home. Those who come to love Christ are increasingly convicted that life is eternal and that His promises are true. What might help is to keep our mind focused on the big picture - the reward for our faithfulness. Our Lord said that, before we follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. If we are going to rise with Him, we must also be crucified with Him. As to family, you are speaking with some of your family right now. Priests and religious also have families that are related by spirit and not simply by blood. In fact, spiritual families can be much closer than those of blood. There is much more that can be said, but time is short this morning. May you find a slice of Christ's peace today.


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