"Man and woman He created them": try to say just these five words today in public western society, and all hell may break loose.
Not only because this expression comes from the Bible––and for many people sacred texts should be condemned regardless. Nevertheless, there are still people that see marriage as something that belongs to the "language of nature." Yes, there are even some sociologists who share the minority’s opinion: Pierpaolo Donati, for example, argues that men and women can "adapt or not" to reality, but they cannot transform it without harming the whole society . Anyway, although it is not the most popular view, the fact is that unity in difference is the essential foundation of the family, since life itself originates from that difference. This does not depend on our cultural constructions. Respecting that this reality "given to us before" is "for our own good" is not shared by the many: no, such a conception is often considered, or even blamed, as being too moralistic.
We’d like to believe, however, that we can still propose these counter-current ideas on such crucial issues that regard human life, enriching the public debate.
It is certainly important neither to impose our views nor to feel we have to tiptoe into a conversation, but it is equally as important to respect the interlocutor and to ask more questions than to judge.
Here are a few ideas for talking about these topics without offending those who do not share our beliefs...
1. Beyond simple ideologies, there are people with homosexual or bisexual tendencies, men who claim they feel they are women, women who claim they feel they are men. Those who have such an experience very often have to face a painful journey of self-discovery, of processing their past, and of accepting their history. Many go through the ordeal of "feeling different" and find themselves having to deal with psychophysical perceptions that come on, regardless of their will.
Can we really understand what they feel if we haven't been through it?
Let's avoid, therefore, trampling on the sensitivity of others, to be judgemental about the lives of others. Let’s try to "diminish suffering”, meaning: let's practice empathy!
2. On these issues, which are so personal and sensitive, we must not be superficial. When one experiences great suffering, it is reductive to say: "Do what you feel, you are free to do what you want." And it is also reductive to simply say, "This is not all right!” Since one’s sexuality is very much linked to a person's inner well-being, it is not possible to "liquidate," with just a few words, those who experience such an inner travail: we invite ourselves and those who have similar experiences to have a deeper look at the issue.
3. Being welcoming is a golden rule! Our first concern must be to show acceptance, in deeds and words. We must have a delicate and not peremptory attitude! Sexuality - not "sex" - is something very personal and intimate, and it is easy to hurt some by "speaking from the outside" of such deep and delicate matters. Absolutely avoid insulting, denigrating, and treating people as "mistakes of nature." Every personal story deserves, above all, kindness and respect. How can anyone be moved to open his heart or to listen to you, if he feels rejected from the outset?
4. One can propose–without imposing–a path that starts from the recognition of objective biological data. Some people, seeing these particular situations, affirm the existence of "more than one gender" and that the realization of the person consists in following his own inclination, whatever it may be. In this way, he "will be fully himself." Following one’s first impulse may be an option, but the world basically imposes this as the only way. Actually, if it is possible to deny one's biological identity, it is also possible to ask oneself whether that "given" identity (because it is a fact: we have not chosen it ourselves) has something to communicate to us, independent of what we feel. Some people in this way––in re-appropriating their biological identity even after having denied it for years––have found their happiness.
5. The world needs witnesses more than teachers. If we have a message to communicate it is much easier to convey it by telling a true story, of a real person, than to propose a theory. This is also true if we want to suggest the reading of the Gospel and the way of living a chaste life for people who are attracted to their own sex. Far from being a rule dropped from above, a life lived in such a way is credible to the extent that someone has really experienced it and benefited from it. (We suggest the Courage website, where you can find numerous testimonies of people who claim to have been reborn in this new way of life). There are also homosexual people who say (if they have not been censored, you can still find videos on YouTube): “Although I consider myself homosexual, I have not found joy in carnal relations with other homosexuals. On the contrary, it was liberating to recognize an objective truth about marriage, about the conjugal act, and to dive more deeply into my friendships or voluntary work in brotherhood and chastity. It was nice to discover that I could love and find happiness without necessarily having to follow my impulses.” These are strong words, which might have otherwise been rejected coming from someone who hadn’t had this experience himself… but there are others, too, who have had similar stories. It’s good to tell these stories, too.
6. "Men and women can do with their lives and bodies what they want": many support this idea. It is true that we can live freely, absolutely, but is a freedom detached from any truth about ourselves and from any greater good even wanted?
It is right to show our affection for freedom, but it is also right to relativize it, or rather, to make one reflect on the purpose of this possibility of self-determination. Is it: "I am free to" or "I am free for"? What do I live for? What am I looking for? What does my soul hunger for?
We must accept others’ free will (God accepts it, can we reject it?), but at the same time we can ask a question: "Have you asked yourself what gives you real, true joy?
7. Show good faith. In recounting these stories, it might be good to make your intentions clear: "I’m not trying to tell you what you have to do because I am a good person and you are stupid. If I’m offering you some food for thought, it is to advise you because I care about you, about your happiness.
"Do what you want", often means: "It’s your problem, not mine. I don't care." If we truly love someone, this cannot be the right perspective. In good faith, if there is mutual trust, we will advise what is "good" from our own point of view. In this case, recognize (not without pain: which we can understand) that the sexual act is functional––when done how nature created it, done out of love and in the exclusivity of the conjugal relationship––to the consolidation of the man-woman relationship. The other will, then, have the freedom to listen to us or not.
A homosexual person can easily reject this viewpoint, feeling "deprived of something good" and can choose to reject such a "heavy burden," but there are also those who, beginning with reality and not from their desires, recognize that they cannot "force" it, and rather find peace, fulfilment, or joy if they focus on something else. That is why we "allow ourselves to speak."
8. Do not discriminate, nor pity the other person: what interests us is that people find peace and calm. We are all brothers on a journey; we are neither superior nor inferior to others...we all share the goal of having eternal happiness; we all have our trials. What we want is to accompany each other on the way to this common goal. The only way to reach it is through love––that is, "to offer one's life." And this path is not precluded to anyone! We invite everyone to look for the path of love designed just for him, since the beginning of time!