Questions and answers
Doctrinal Commission – International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
There are many people today, both inside and outside the Church, who identify themselves as gay. What can the CCR do to welcome, serve, and accompany them on their journey of discipleship?
The grace at the heart of the CCR is baptism in the Holy Spirit, by which the Father’s love has been poured into our hearts and we have begun a new life in the lordship of Jesus. This great gift equips the CCR in a particular way to reach out to those who identify as gay. There are several specific ways that we might do so.
First, because we have experienced the Lord’s love and mercy so powerfully in our own lives, far beyond anything we could deserve, the CCR can imitate Jesus in his acceptance of everyone he encountered. Jesus welcomed women and men, Jews and Gentiles, pious people and sinners. He overcame the social barriers that divided people, sometimes to the surprise or disapproval of others (cf. Mark 2:16; John 4:27). When some complained, he responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:31-32). By imitating Jesus, the CCR can be a place where people with same-sex attraction can experience the welcome of Christ.
Second, in the CCR we have experienced the liberating truth of God’s Word—even those parts of his Word that can be hard to listen to because they call us to repentance. Scripture is clear that homosexual conduct is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality and degrading to those who practice it (Rom 1:26-28). Sexual activity belongs only within the covenant of marriage, in the one-flesh union of a man and a woman. But at the same time, Scripture proclaims the glorious freedom won for us by the cross and resurrection of Jesus. St. Paul, after listing several serious sins (including sexual sins), reminds the Corinthians, “Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). And then he exhorts them, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19- 20).
But how is it possible to live chastely if one experiences strong sexual desires outside of marriage? Those who are baptized in the Spirit can attest that they have experienced a new power within them— the Holy Spirit—enabling them to resist the desires of the flesh in a way that was not possible before. We are no longer slaves to our desires! This includes all the disordered desires that result from the Fall, including anger, revenge, jealousy, greed, etc., as well as misdirected sexual desires. By the Holy Spirit we are empowered to say no to these desires, to die to sin and live for God (Rom 6:6-14).
Sometimes preaching and teaching presents God’s high standards for our conduct, but fails to show how we can access the power that enables us to meet those standards, the Holy Spirit! To omit that part of the gospel is like asking people to get to the moon in a Fiat [car]. It leads to a view of God as a harsh taskmaster, and the Christian life as burdensome and unattractive. So the CCR has a special responsibility to bear witness to everyone that living a holy life is truly possible, even in the midst of struggles, because of the unlimited divine love and power at work within us.
Third, the CCR can bring a prophetic critique against our contemporary culture’s idolatry of sex by showing that there are many other forms of human fulfilment, especially through deep bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood with others in the body of Christ. We can bear witness that it is possible to have a personal relationship with Christ that satisfies the deepest desires of the human heart.
Finally, the CCR has a role in helping people experience God’s healing. Many of us have experienced either physical or interior healing through ministries of healing and deliverance. The deepest healing occurs by coming to know and embrace our identity as a son or daughter of God, infinitely loved by him. As St. Paul teaches, the revelation of who we truly are is a work of the Holy Spirit: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:15-16). The CCR can provide a great service to those experiencing same-sex attraction by enabling them to encounter the healing power of Christ.
As is the case with all ministries, ministry to those who identify as gay must be carried out with wisdom and good discernment. It should help people to live chastely and to grow in their relationship with Christ. It should be carried out only by those who understand clearly what Scripture and the Church teach about sexuality and who recognize that God’s plan for sexuality is always good news— even when it is difficult. It should include people who have long experience walking in the Spirit and who can accompany others with love, patience and wisdom. It should also include many opportunities for people to encounter God’s love, to share their lives with others, and to receive the help of the sacraments.