I am a woman who desires men, but I don't define myself that way. Who I am depends equally as much on the parents who raised me, the town where I grew up, and the schools I attended. I am an introverted and somewhat socially awkward intellectual, who likes Renaissance music, science fiction, and macaroni and cheese. I am all of these things and I like all of these things completely apart from my heterosexuality.
I could identify myself as a Virginian born-and-bred or a New York transplant, as a blogger or a lawyer or a stay-at-home mom, but these categories don't constrain or pigeon-hole me. On a deeper level, I am a former WASP turned Catholic convert. I am a baptized Christian who bears on my brow and in my soul the seal of Him who died. I am bound to my husband through the Sacrament of Matrimony, and in some mystical way we have been made one. On a still deeper level, I am a creature of God brought into existence out of love and because He has a special plan for me.
So I don't post my sexual preference on my Facebook profile, parade it through the streets, wear certain colors on certain days, or join special-interest groups. Because I can't be reduced to a certain type of longing.
My sexuality didn't matter much when I was a child and likely won't matter much when I'm 90. While heterosexuality is an integral part of my marriage to my husband, our vows to love each other through riches and poverty, sickness and health, encompass far more than a ratification of our desire. As St. Josemaría said:
for normal people, sex comes in fourth or fifth place. First come spiritual ideals, with each person choosing his own. Next, a whole series of matters that concern ordinary men and women: their father and mother, home, children, and so on. After that, one's job or profession. Only then, in fourth or fifth place, does the sexual impulse come in.Although sexual desire exerts a powerful emotional pull, it is not the most important aspect of anyone's life.
Sexual desire can point towards our desire for loving union with another and loving union with God, but it can never substitute for true union. On the contrary, strong sexual desire can swamp our sense of right and wrong, dragging us under in an emotional flood, drowning our reason. Succumbing to the temptation of the moment is one thing. Turning our sexual desires or preferences into the keystone of our identity is quite another.
I am so much more than simply a woman who desires men. And since that is true, every homosexual is more than simply a man who desires men. Every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning individual is more than a disembodied sexual orientation. Each one is an individual, who is funny or reserved, impulsive or controlled, gregarious or shy. They might be musicians, doctors, actors, lawyers, or members of any other profession. They might be baptized Christians or a professed atheists. And, like all of us, they might be lonely, hurting, in need of friendship, in need of love, in need of being saved.
So when we say "love the sinner and hate the sin," perhaps we should think "love the person and weep for the desire that leads them to sin." Because we all have our temptations and our unhealthy desires, but we can't and shouldn't be reduced to that. Every one of us is more than our desire.
Photo Credit: andrew and hobbes via Compfight cc
A revised version of this post appeared on MercatorNet.com.