Catholic Mom of a Gay Son:
How I reconcile my faith and my support of my son
I was born into an Irish/Scottish Catholic family. I attended Catholic schools growing up and I have worked in Catholic schools for years. I teach Sunday school and have done so for many years. I know the Catechism well. I respect the teachings of the Church, and would never be so arrogant as to suggest the Church has it wrong.
My son’s invitation to the White House has gotten some attention. Most of the responses have been supportive and loving. Some people seem concerned about Aaron’s and my understanding of the teachings of the Church. I’d like to address this here. I’m certainly not the only Catholic who has a gay child or family member, so maybe my journey can help others.
I knew Aaron was gay when he was in kindergarten. Actually, I tell people no one really “knows” until the person tells you, so I should say that I believed he was gay. His father, older brother and I knew. There were times before Aaron came out that my oldest son and I talked about just telling him we knew he was gay. But, that didn’t seem fair. HE had to be ready. So we waited. When he finally told all of us, it was a huge relief and as if a weight had been lifted. That may sound wrong to some of you who are Catholic. That we “celebrated” his coming out as gay??? But, we did. Because now we could know each other on a much deeper, more personal level. There were no more secrets and barriers and we could tell Aaron how much we love him regardless of the fact that he’s gay.
Although this was a great time for us, I was scared and hurt. My heart was heavy. I knew Aaron would face some difficult days for being gay. I know what my religion teaches about homosexual relationships, and it’s not anything to celebrate. The Church’s teachings are firm and unchanging. How were Aaron and I to deal with him being gay and the Church we love telling us his actions could risk his eternal salvation? That’s scary, huh?
So, I prayed. I’ve actually prayed for Aaron every day since my realization when he was in kindergarten. At first I prayed he wasn’t gay. Not because I’d be ashamed, but because I knew the fear he’d feel one day. When I realized I wasn’t “praying the gay away”, my prayers changed. I pray for understanding, mercy, forgiveness, and strength. I pray for Aaron’s soul and mine. Because, you see, I will not turn my back on him. Ever. I struggle.
As a Catholic mother of a gay son, I struggle. The struggle is the same as Aaron’s. There is a conflict between what my faith teaches and what my conscience tells me. My conscience tells me I am to love Aaron unconditionally and I am to do what I can to help him along this journey of life on earth. I am to make sure he knows, loves and serves God. My conscience also tells me that marriage is about love, commitment and being open to raising a family. My conscience has me asking if same sex couples love each other and want to make that commitment, why should we legally prevent them from that right? See the conflict? I struggle with respecting that Aaron will never be able to marry in the Catholic church in the Sacrament of Matrimony while still wondering why non-Catholics shouldn’t be allowed to enter into a same sex legal marriage. Yes, I know. That thinking is sinful according to the Catholic faith. I’m a sinner. I pray about this conflict all the time. God isn’t done with me yet.
Many have issues with how Aaron describes his desire for reconciliation and how he makes efforts to reconcile his sins. I think what some people want to hear Aaron say is, “I’m Catholic, gay and chaste”. If he won’t say those things, he’s a sinner doomed to hell. For those who claim to know the Catechism so well, you’re wrong. One person even wrote that Aaron has already made decisions that have determined his salvation. Really??? Go back and review the Catechism is what I want to say to that man. How can he, a human, be in authority to judge Aaron’s salvation? Gay people can seek reconciliation just like everyone else who sins.
What if Aaron is married to another man and they decide their love is so profound, they don’t even have to have sex? Don’t you know older, married heterosexuals who come to that level of love at some point? What if Aaron has a boyfriend and they decide they don’t want their relationship to be about sex at all? What if he’s young and is still working toward a chaste relationship? What if so many people want to focus on Aaron’s sex life, that they can’t open their minds to anything else?
For you Catholic parents of heterosexual children, let me throw this out. What would you do if you knew your child was having pre-marital sex? What would you do if your child was living with someone without being married? What would you do if your child got married then chose to use contraception? What would you do if your child got divorced then remarried without receiving a Nullity of Marriage? Would you want people letting you and your child know he’s going to hell? Would you turn your back on your child? Would you be ashamed of your child? You’d probably do what I do. Pray.