This problem of auto-naming by Christians who struggle with homosexual sin has been around for a while, and sadly the tendency seems to be toward adopting the name of the sin.
Of course, there is a sense in which every Christian can name himself as a sinner. I am a murderer, I am an adulterer, I am a thief. And this is true, as most Christians know and as Jesus taught, even if there was not an actual assassination, rendezvous, or break-in. This is a big part of the struggle for Christians. A Christian man lusts after a woman, he knows this makes him an adulterer; a Christian man lusts after a man, this makes him some sort of sinner…a fornicator, an adulterer, a sodomite, a homosexual. He feels he needs to name himself, so he does (and of course, he’s not going to choose sodomite).
This is valid in a true but limited sense. But in the ultimate ontological-identity-self-who-am-I sense it is not true. It must not be true. The thief who now servers Christ may be able to say “I was a thief” and even “I remain a thief” in certain contexts, but he no longer identifies himself as a thief. It is laughable to imagine that in response to the question “What are you?” he would say “I am a Christian thief.” No, he is simply a Christian.
That is how Christians who struggle with homosexual sin ought to identify themselves: as Christians. Full stop. No qualifications. Now if a friend says, “But I thought you were gay”, there might be explanations and qualifications. But not until then. It is important for every Christian that whatever life they have left behind and are leaving behind for the sake of Christ not be their identity.
One of the dangers of embracing the name “gay” or “homosexual” alongside Christian is the subsequent urge to justify it and to make it good. If the label is not wholly rejected, one is only a few steps from saying that homosexuality is a gift from God, perhaps because it makes one more sensitive or artistic (seriously, this actually happens). It also tempts us toward a false sense of identification with “the gay community”. I don’t mean that there should be not sense of identification…but there should be a detachment and freedom commensurate to one’s freedom in Christ. St. Paul ached deeply for the salvation of the Jews, but was the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is through the Church and its Gospel that we best minister to homosexuals, not through Christian homosexual therapy or support groups. We must all dive into the Church of Christ, and understand that housewives and engineers are closer to us than those we’ve left behind.
I am not saying, by the way, that a Christian who makes the mistake of identity I’ve described above is not a Christian. But it is a mistake we’re talking about here, and a harmful one. Our identity is in Christ.
Here end my words. Below is fully half of Mr. Mattson’s post (linked to above), which is an obnoxious level of quoting, but hey, I include it.
I think it is a mistake to view homosexuality as a gift, in and of itself. Those who identify as gay speak of the great gifts that supposedly flow from their homosexuality. But of course, any goods that are supposedly unique to homosexuality are common to man, and all that is good in man is the result of being made in the image and likeness of God. My career in the performing arts is not even indirectly caused by my same-sex attraction, but instead because God is the creator of music and beauty. I believe that great good can come as a result of living with this disordered inclination, but it only comes when I acknowledge it as a weakness, and in response, fall to my knees before the good God who looks upon me daily with “a serene and kindly countenance,” and comforts me with the words “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
The good that flows from the homosexual inclination is not an exceptional “otherness,” as Elizabeth Scalia seems to suggest. No, the good is the redemptive healing work of God that begins when we honestly acknowledge that homosexuality is a wound. If we do so, we can become “Wounded Healers,” in the way that Henri Nouwen viewed his own wounds, which we now know included same-sex attraction. Nouwen should be our model: humbly accepting the Church’s teachings, in all things, and abandoning the rest to Divine Providence. If we desire to bring the gay community into the family of God, it will not be through a celebration of homosexuality, or by changing the language of the Church in order to make it feel more welcoming to them. The path of evangelization is the cross. In recalling St. Paul’s success at evangelization, Ratzinger reminds us that “The success of his mission was not the fruit of great rhetorical art or pastoral prudence; the fruitfulness was tied to the suffering, to the communion in the passion with Christ.”
The gay community will become family when those of us in the Church who live with the inclination accept it for what it truly is: a deep wound within our persons which we joyfully choose to unite with the Suffering Christ, on behalf of those we love so dearly in the gay community. By his wounds we are healed, and by the acceptance and transformation of our wounds, through the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit will draw them home to their Heavenly Father.