Yesterday I posted about what Father John Harvey, OSFS, said and did with regard to what we two call "mixed-inclination marriages." Today I am elaborating as to how his thoughts apply to our own mixed-inclination marriage, and, from my perspective through peer and pastoral counselling, as to the present and future needs of the Church in this regard.
Update (29 December 2013): As always, our testimony is our testimony, and, as a reminder, Catholics don't believe in cloning. Nothing in the discussion below is meant to subtract from pastoral attention for the celibate majority of Catholics who have sought support for living chastely with SSA. We two devote a great deal of energy to advocating for their needs. My plea to an ecumenical audience for better overall pastoral care for individuals and families affected by SSA would, if received, very much benefit our single friends with SSA. And we two speak out loudly against the reckless assumption that persons with SSA have some sort of obligation to pursue opposite-sex attraction and marriage; one of our most popular presentations is on "Twelve Ways a Catholic Pastoral Approach to SSA Differs from a Classical 'Ex-Gay' Approach."
Furthermore, we are acutely aware of the overwhelming pain resulting from mixed-inclination marriages where full consent was not obtained and unresolved impediments have led to tragedy. Our peer and pastoral counselling includes assistance to married folk who have to ask, "What now?" -- and seek help either alone or with a spouse. Part of sharing our own model of an exceptional, sacramental mixed-inclination marriage is to help prevent and alleviate impediments to marriage or to marital intimacy.
Over several days of January 2009, in conjunction with his second-last visit to Toronto, Father Harvey spoke to various audiences with testimonials from various members of Courage. At a clergy luncheon The Sheepcat spoke alongside Father and introduced me as his fiancée (though I already knew many people present from my pro-life and pro-family work). On the following day we had a premarital counselling meeting with Father Harvey as an adjunct to the preparation we were doing through our parish. Based on our personal interactions as well as my studies of his writings, I am highlighting a few points.
1. Whether to marry
Father Harvey correctly resisted the 1960s proposition that what we now call same-sex attraction be an absolute impediment to marriage. We're grateful for his convictions! We have encountered people who believed we weren't eligible for the sacrament through which we're working out our salvation. We can't imagine not being married to each other.
To use Father Harvey's language from The Homosexual Person, The Sheepcat does and continues to have "clear signs of homosexuality." Yet The Sheepcat also had "a strong physical attraction for his fiancée, and control over all sexual tendencies." These he has maintained in marriage. He has also sustained such significant inclination change that, should I predecease him, I would think he should remarry.
Marriage is suiting us very well. We have made the goal holiness, not inclination change. I am not weirded out by The Sheepcat's ongoing SSA, and I do not pressure him to be like other men. Actually, my back gets up when people misunderstand our testimony and ask, "When did he go straight?" The Sheepcat is an exceptional husband, and sharing his experience of SSA is just another part of our SPICE-y intimacy.
Where it seems that Father Harvey and his contemporaries left a gap is with precisely how a couple should be guided given that a particular person with SSA is eligible for marriage.