…while adhering to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and other traditional Christians.
While there are many ways of approaching the question of vocation, this post has in mind the human need for relationship. Because sexual relationships outside of marriage are forbidden by Catholic teaching, and gay people will largely not enter (opposite-sex/Catholic) marriage, there is a pressing need to present or altogether re-imagine possible paths for gay Christians. Gay Christians are like everyone else in that they are made for relationship and community. They, too, desire intimacy, friendship, and commitment.
It is unfortunate that the only real alternative many gay Catholics hear is to “be celibate.” But what comes next? Sex may be off limits, but that hardly answers all the related questions, especially in a world where sexual relationships are more and more exalted over others.
These are by no means exhaustive. Some may be more controversial than others. But the overall point is that none of these are inherently contrary to Catholic teaching and may very well depend on specific circumstances. There is no single path for all gay Christians, after all.
In no particular order:
Living Alone. Let’s start here. This is of course an option, but this post was formed with the intention of mitigating loneliness while promoting community. In a sense, all the other suggestions are an alternative to this option. Nevertheless, some people may prefer to live alone. Opportunities for service and friendship will need to be pursued in order to form relationships and combat loneliness, such as in #3.
(1) Multiple Roommates. This may be more practical early on, and easier to do, too. This is a common arrangement for many people, after all. However, it’s hardly a lasting living situation for most people. But what if the roommates intentionally planned to continue living together? What if all roommates even went so far as to agree to support each other, indefinitely — or even with a sort of vowed single life? This could also be a good opportunity for multiple gay Christians to support each other in community, since they all have similar struggles and experiences.
(2) Intentional Community. The same idea as above, with more structure, perhaps more people, and even with different living situations (married, currently single, and committed single). These often form in religious contexts, so the idea would be to have a thoroughly Catholic/Christian community. There would be shared religious observances, prayers, etc.
(3) Friendship-Focused Living. Yep, it’s made-up term on my part. But here’s what I envision: A lifestyle that makes friendship so valuable so as to spend considerable time and effort on it. Friends would not just be an “extra.” They’d be so important to the extent that important life decisions would be made within that framework (instead of, say, career). You’ve heard of couples who do everything together — even annoyingly so. Well make that a group of friends. Or even a single friend. The idea here is that all parties are intentional and committed. This isn’t just about having a good friendship. This would be a conscious decision to have a friendship that is enduring, supportive, and time-consuming (in the best sense of the word).
(4) Committed Friendship. Though the title is not suggestive of it, in this case, two friends would live together. I suppose you could pack aspects of the above three into this — the only requirements here being (1) two individuals and (2) living together. The benefit of this would be that it adds a special commitment between two people to the extent that even daily activities would involve the friendship. The idea would probably need to include the expectation that both parties will remain single — especially if the friend is straight. Though both individuals could be gay — so long as they remain intent on the single life. In other words, there would need to be a strong confidence that both parties intend on remaining in this state, perhaps permanently.
(5) Committed Gay Partnership. Though this may be controversial to some, we should not outright toss it out if it has positive potential, even within a Catholic context. The idea here would be to have two gay persons who, even if physically attracted to each other, decide to be so committed that you could describe their relationship in all ways except sexual. There may or may not be elements of intimacy (not explicitly sexual, though). The fact is, it’s perfectly possible for even straight couples to have legitimate intimacy before/outside of marriage. If Christians aren’t going to be in a fuss about anything “intrinsically sinful” about these situations, then we shouldn’t make a fuss about same-sex intimacy — hugging, holding hands, even cuddling. If there’s something inherently wrong about these with gay people, then they have to be just as wrong for straight people — since they happen outside the confines of marriage all the time.