The Personalist Project

Long before the phrase “marriage equality” was on the lips of every other politician and every other schoolchild (that is, a few years ago), a priest friend of ours, Fr. Paul, used to ask his students: “What would you say to someone who wanted to marry his boyfriend?”

On cue, without fail, his teenage audience would grimace and intone in unison, “Eeeeww!”

“No,” he’d explain patiently. “That’s not an argument.”

                                               *     *     *     *     *

Times have changed, and he wouldn’t likely get that kind of response now, especially among teenagers. Many see it as a no-brainer: equality and justice on the one hand, cruelty and irrationality on the other. As far as they can tell, it all boils down to this:

But Fr. Paul had a point.

He meant that “ew” wasn’t sufficiently articulated or thought out.  He wanted the students to turn over in their minds the nature of marriage, of masculine and feminine, of the various kinds of love and commitment.  He wanted them equipped to respond rationally to their opponents: people hostile to the institution of marriage and natural law.  (The necessity of this is far clearer today than it was back then.)

But “ew” is not only intellectually deficient, it’s damaging to people struggling with same sex attraction.  It can make them feel horribly unwelcome in the church—not just that their actions are being censured but that they, as persons, are being singled out as unclean and unwanted.  

It’s not just a battle between those who are trying to salvage the last remnants of cultuaral sanity and those who are consciously plotting to topple western civilization.  Caught in the middle are who experience these attractions and are laboring to understand what to make of them. They can end up instrumentalized, pressured into accepting the assumptions of one side or the other, collateral damage of the culture wars. 

 In a new video called The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Churchwe hear a seldom-told side of the story. 

One man, David, describes it like this:

There’s two camps [...] those that say, you’re going to hell, God hates homosexuals--and then there’s people who say […] oh, you can just live an active gay life, God loves everybody, it’s OK, He wants you to love too!

Joseph (who just happens to be my brother, Joseph Prever, formerly known as Steve Gershom) puts it like this:

From the Church you hear either nothing or “that’s gross,” and from the secular media you start to feel this embrace, this support, this "Let’s go out and find these people and help them." ... Wow. It’s no wonder that so many people leave, right?

He recalls:

I knew what was prohibited.  I knew there wasn’t a future for me [...] being married to a man or something [.…] I didn’t know why it was prohibited; it seemed arbitrary and cruel, as it still seems to a lot of people.

And Melinda adds:

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who have had negative experiences. Usually it’s with people who have grasped the law but who have not grasped the teaching that the homosexual is a person.

That's what this video accomplishes: it cuts through the false alternative: either we honor the experience of the persons in question by compromising moral truth, or we honor the truth by shrugging off the experience of persons.

I hope you'll watch the whole thing (much more rewarding than reading transcribed snippets) and share your impressions. It ends on a happy, even a triumphant note.  But it's a real window into the experience of the ones we're all supposedly talking about.  It's enlightening, sometimes surprising, sometimes painful, and finally hopeful. At least that's how it struck me.

What do you think?

Comments (7)

Rhett Segall

#1, May 3, 2014 11:43am


I've finished "The Third Way" and it is tremdously helpful as a way of entering into the feelings of those with SSA.

I teach Catholic Theology to teens. It is very important that I speak about SSA clearly from the Catholic faith perspective while at the same time respecting the full and rich humanity of the homosexual  The testimonies are very good in manifesting these things.

However, I think the film would be more persuassive if the testimonies included older folks with SSA who have been able to live chastely and happily  because of their Catholic faith.

The book that enabled me most to enter into the homosexual experience is Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. Hill also is committed to Christian chastity but also is very young.

Of course, the youth of the witnesses takes nothing away from the power and inspiration of their witness. I am most thankful for their sharing.


Katie van Schaijik

#2, May 6, 2014 3:46am

It's very humbling for me to consider how naive and obtuse and unfeeling I have been all my life in this area. I'm grateful for the SSA Catholics willing to share their experience honestly.

The limits of traveling mean I haven't yet been able to see this film, but I'm very much looking forward to it.  Thanks for the link, Devra!

Devra Torres

#3, May 8, 2014 2:41pm

Rhett, that's an interesting point.  I'm not aware of any testimonies by people who've experienced a smoother adjustment.  That in itself may speak to the need for Catholics who accept Church teaching to find a way to be uncompromising about doctrine but welcoming of persons.  I'd be interested to read Washed and Waiting, too.

Rose Speer

#4, Nov 19, 2014 8:08am

What do I do to watch the video ?

Katie van Schaijik

#5, Nov 19, 2014 8:13am

I just saw it's unavailable now on youtube. I don't know why. Maybe Devra can find it. Meanwhile, there's another very good one just put out by Courage, a group dedicated to supporting SSA Catholics in their desire to live chaste lives.

It's called Desire of the Everlasting Hills.

Devra Torres

#6, Nov 19, 2014 9:42pm

Rose, here's a link I found:

I'm not sure if it will work--maybe if you cut and paste the link to your browser?

Devra Torres

#7, Nov 19, 2014 9:44pm

Or maybe this one:

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