Homosexuality And Following Jesus
This is a really good and highly readable account of homosexuality and Catholic teaching. Paul Flaman, an assistant professor of theology, has clearly been inspired by Fr John Harvey, the founder of the Catholic support group Courage. As such, it is hardly surprising that a radical conversion to following Jesus is emphasized throughout the work. Also noted are the needs for friendship and chastity, requirements for all those who desire to follow Jesus.
The author notes that a person ought never to be reduced to his sexual orietation. He quotes these words from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith :
"The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation."
A person is loved into existence by a Father who keeps His promises. The followers of Jesus are called to a complete sacrificial love and it is this love that motivates persons with same sex attraction to live lives of holiness. It is also this love that ought to produce the kinds of support that all persons, irrespective of their orientation, need to achieve holiness.
The author recounts many wonderful conversion stories. For example:
"An amazing thing happened. I discovered that Jesus was the best source of love I had ever known. It was Christ's intense and demonstrative love for me that led me to obedience, and it was my obedience to Christ that led me to sexual healing and wholeness."
A Catholic psychiatrist observes:
"Only God's love is powerful enough to overcome the painful loneliness and sadness, insecurities and fears by providing a feeling of being deeply loved, special and safe at every life stage."
The author examines several studies including one by Professors Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse which claims that there is "solid evidence that homosexual orientation can be significantly changed." Nicholas Cummings, former president of the American Psychological Association, says of this study that "it has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded."
There is a wealth of quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the American Catholic Medical Association and other resources.
There are wonderful stories of reconciliation. A bishop had a confrontation with an active homosexual who was an altar server in his diocese. The altar server launched a human rights complaint against the bishop. They later met and prayed together. The man dropped the complaint and was fully reconciled with the Church.
There is a need for dialogue and healing in this increasingly divisive issue. This book is a very valuable contribution to this dialogue.
REVIEWED BY DR PRAVIN THEVATHASAN