from My Recommended Reading List (Part 8 of 12)
One of my goals for this blog in 2013 is to spotlight my “Recommended Reading List”. “Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism” by Melinda Selmys is the selection for August. To view the complete list of my favorite books on the subject of same-sex attractions, click the this link: My List of Recommended Books
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t agree with every single idea, concept or thesis discussed in every book on my list. But each selection contributes insight and understanding to the subject.
Summary of Content
Selmys describes herself as a lesbian feminist atheist turned Catholic home school mother of four (seven children as of August 2013). Reading like a collection of essays, her volume of meditations does not lend itself to the synoptic style of my earlier entries. Her tone is philosophical but quirky. The presentation of the Catholic perspective is practical. Her personal experiences and observations are realistic, honest and at times very frank. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Part One – Homosexuality in the World
Part Two – Homosexuality in Theory
Part Three – Homosexuality and the Human Person
Part Four – Homosexuality and God
Part Five – Homosexuality and Identity
“My fodder for these meditations is a combination of research, experience, and autobiography. My goal is three-fold.
First, to produce a document that will help Christians to understand where homosexuals are coming from, so that they will not, armed with the best intentions, drive people with same-sex attractions out of the Church.
Second, to explain the Catholic understanding of sexuality and homosexuality in a way that will not immediately alienate a homosexual reader, and that will dispel some of the stereotypes and misunderstandings about Christianity that are currently circulating through the secular world.
Finally, and in many ways most importantly, I am trying to understand this issue: what is it all about, what does it mean, what are its implications?”
Melinda Selmys, author of “Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism” (page 7)
The chapters that especially caught my attention were chapters 11 (hope) and 12 (love) because the experiences of same-sex attraction are too great for us to carry by ourselves. Selmys reminds us we are not condemned to a cycle of failure and self-hatred in this life. From her perspective, we have three choices . . .
(1) “to abandon the attempt to be virtuous, to accept an exculpatory ethic that excuses whatever vice has seeped most deeply into the marrow of the soul, and to march off down the wide boulevard to depravity”
(2) “try to maintain the illusion that we are good, upstanding people, and then, whenever we falter and fall, condemn ourselves with weeping and gnashing of teeth”
(3) “to put aside the notion that we are already good and work at becoming so . . . Only armed with the knowledge that we are going to stumble, and that our moral muscles are going to hurt in the morning, and that people around us are going to criticize us for falling to be perfect first time out, is it possible to pursue moral perfection without surrendering to self-loathing.” (pages 171 – 173)
As I mentioned in a earlier post (“If You Are Struggling With Same-Sex Attractions or a Gay Identity . . .”), a saving and obedient relationship with Jesus is central and essential to a fulfilling and abundant life. We all must admit our need for salvation and God’s forgiveness. For the many of us, the ordeal won’t be over until we stand before God’s judgment throne.
For Christians who wish to bring the same-sex attracted to Christ, Selmys offers this earnest cautionary reminder . . .
“We cannot offer hope to anyone – not to fags, or dykes, or winos, or strumpets, or capitalist pig-dogs, or lily-livered poltroons – if we are trying to reach down from the parapet of an ivory tower . . .
I understand exactly what my homosexual brothers are feeling when they give up on the quest for chastity leave the Church, and try to find hope and happiness in the gay lifestyle. I have felt it myself: there are times when I look up at my ceiling at night, and I don’t see the face of God – I haven’t seen Him or felt Him, in months, and I can’t understand the burdens that are piling up on me – and I want to say, “To hell with it.” Literally. Let this entire project of the moral life collapse under its own weight; just let me get out of the building first . . .
If you feel compelled to rattle someone into a realization that they are sauntering down the wide avenues to hell, concentrate on the complacent, the respectable, the self-satisfied. The sinners – the public, obvious sinners, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the men on Queen Street with the leather thongs – they know (insecurity, failure, darkness, heartache, hopelessness, etc.). Christ was very tender with these people. He saved the epithets and violence for the Pharisees and the money changers in the Temple.” (pages 176, 178)
Links and Resources
(1) This is the Amazon.com link for this book:
(2) This is the Amazon.com link for Selmys’ 2013 sequel:
(3) The link to Melinda Selmys’ blog:
(4) Courage International is an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to persons with same-sex attractions and their loved ones. Here’s their link:
(5) In this 8-minute video, Selmys does an excellent job answering these four questions:
- How has your faith impacted the same-sex attraction area of your life?
- Why is it that most people seem to be fixated on the sexual aspect of the same-sex movement?
- What would you say to a fellow Catholic who believes that same-sex relationships can be validated by the gospel?
- How do we effectively reach across the divide to build relationships with those in the gay community?
If a video doesn’t appear in this space, click here to view the video at Vimeo.com.
(6) Selmys’ author interview with Renewal Ministries. If a video doesn’t appear in this space, click here to view the video at Vimeo.com.
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2013.
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