June 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — We live in strange times where novel ideas — many might say dangerous ideas — are given credence and attention, leading to lightning-fast acceptance. We have seen same-sex “marriage” instituted throughout much of the western world at a frenetic pace, and now gender identity has similarly grabbed the spotlight in popular culture, boardrooms, and in legislative and judicial chambers.
Daniel Mattson, a chaste same-sex-attracted Catholic, has done a tremendous service for the Church and the world by authoring Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay. Dan is a longtime member of Courage, a world-wide Catholic apostolate ministering to persons with same-sex attraction.
Battles quietly rage within the Catholic Church over how best to pastor the same-sex attracted (SSA), and in the pages of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, Mattson skillfully addresses two enormous issues facing the Church at this critical moment history.
First, some SSA Catholics seek not to reject “gay” identity but to cherish and enshrine their “gayness” as a personal identity beyond male or female. They are proud to simultaneously call themselves “Gay and Catholic,” abandoning Church teaching that homoerotic desire is intrinsically disordered. Though chaste, they prefer to celebrate being “gay” and to divine special gifts from it.
Second, a growing number of priests and prelates now challenge the Church’s genuine understanding of the human person and of human sexuality. Some of these go further than embracing chaste “gay identity” and flirt with the notion that active homosexuality should be recognized as a valid way of life within the Church.
In an intriguing move, the release of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay has been timed to coincide with the release of Building a Bridge by Fr. James Martin, SJ, a prolific public supporter of LGBT issues. Fr. Martin was recently honored by New Ways Ministry, an LGBT group previously condemned for representing itself as a Catholic organization, and some top Vatican and U.S. church officials are praising his gay-friendly book.
Yet as Mattson notes in his book, “The reframing of human sexuality from behavior to identity has brought about a lot of confusion in the world, especially among young people … ” It is the “greatest single victory of the gay movement.”
This book starts as a memoir and remains intermittently so throughout as it weaves magisterial truth into the telling of his personal testimony. Mattson himself once believed he was gay, turned his back on God, and pursued romantic and sexual relationships with men. Yet he found himself bereft until he turned to Christ and accepted his true identity as a man made in the image and likeness of God, a beloved son of God. By “reclaiming his sexual reality,” he “found peace” and a ministry to others with SSA.
In a friendly email to me a few years ago, Mattson wrote: “I'm troubled by these folks who are abstaining from sex but embracing the sexual identity of LGBT, et.al. I think this thinking of embracing a sexual orientation other than ‘male’ or ‘female’ will wreak havoc for our youth. Ultimately, I hope and pray that they'll come fully into the richness of the Church's teachings on sexuality, but in the meantime, they need to be charitably challenged, because of the impact they could have on people in the Church who are confused about their sexual identity.”
His book, beginning with its title, would appear to be his “charitable challenge” to the infiltration of foreign ideologies into the Church.
A master craftsman, Mattson builds a strong bulwark of truth against lies creeping into the Church. Dan makes it abundantly clear that the Church has a positive, life-giving message for those of us who live with SSA.
Mattson speaks of the “empty promises of coming out” that “leads to a belief in what is ultimately an unreal condition — it paints a false image of the human person and traps people into sexual identities that are disconnected with reality.” Mattson rejects sentimentality, which misleads so many gays and their supporters, and instead, like a laser, he focuses exclusively on known truth.
In a video produced for the Vatican’s 2014 colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman, Ifeyinwa Awagu of Lagos, Nigeria, said, “Marriage is beyond us. It’s about the society. It is your own project for the world.”
Mattson delivers a similar powerful, prophetic message for the same-sex attracted called to be chaste, quoting Elisabeth Elliot: “When a man or woman, a boy or girl, accepts the way of loneliness for Christ’s sake, there are cosmic ramifications. That person, in a secret transaction with God, actually does something for the life of the world. This seems almost inconceivable, yet it is true, for it is one part of the mystery of suffering which has been revealed to us.”
In this way, this remarkable book is so much more than a memoir and will “do something for the life of the world.” Mattson shows himself to be not just an ordinary guy dealing with SSA in his life: He is a gifted writer and poet; an inspirational evangelist and an ambassador for Christ.
While a tremendous boon for those of us who experience same-sex attraction or those who simply want to understand the fullness of the nature of the battle over sexual identity now facing the Church, this book is for all seek to deepen their spiritual life in Christ.
Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay arrives with great credentials. Cardinal Sarah wrote its foreward, and thus far the book has been endorsed by New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston and a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace is published by Ignatius Press, available June 13. 300 pages.