Love Has No Labels… But It Does Have a Language
When I came out about my same-sex attractions at 14, I felt free and exhilarated because I could finally be honest with myself. These attractions had set me apart from my peers since my childhood, but with this newfound sense of self-honesty, I was free to explore what might happen next. From confessing crushes with a little less awkwardness, to having girlfriends (I’m a girl by the way), to random hookups, I was living in a whole new world.
Toward the end of high school, I went through a process of serious self-reflection, which eventually brought me to the conclusion that I wanted to be Catholic (which was convenient, because I had already been baptized Catholic as a baby). But I was faced with a difficult reality: The Catholic Church obviously does not approve of same-sex romantic relationships. Before this time, I was not a fan of religion—especially Catholicism—so this topic touched deep wounds in my heart. Like ice cream on a sore tooth, I wanted to be Catholic, but the inner conflict was present . . . so I decided to investigate.
Setting my bitterness and hurt aside, I explored Catholic teaching on sexuality, and what I found left me floored. It was beautiful. It was majestic. It was . . . poetry. I discovered that the Catholic Church upheld a very specific definition of married love in that it isn’t simply about two people committing to each other for the rest of their lives out of love. Rather, the Church teaches that married love is so much more. It is transcendental: It is a visible manifestation of the love between God and humanity.
God endowed married love with a very unique language, distinguishing it from all other forms of loving relationships. And this love language, I came to find, very specifically requires one man and one woman, in order to be spoken properly. Why? Because married love is a model of Christ’s self-giving, life-giving love.
In marriage, a man and a woman come together so intimately that even their bodies profess what is going on in their hearts—the two become one flesh. God designed the bodies of men and women to come together and speak to the truth of his intimate love for us: a love which entered our world and made itself one with us, uniting itself to our flesh and creating new life in our hearts. A husband’s body allows him to enter not only his wife’s world, but his wife. A wife’s body allows her to receive not only her husband’s love, but her husband.
This is brilliantly described in The Song of Songs; the sexual love between a husband and a wife, and by allegory, the love between God and humanity. Within this type of union (which reflects our physical design), and with an openness to life as God permits, we are able to speak the language of God’s love. This language (and the capacity of our bodies for this language) was created by God to point us back to him.
So, the Church isn’t against same-sex marriage because it’s against “gay people” (it isn’t, and my life is living proof of that). Rather it is because the Church is for this beautiful language.
What does this mean for me?
I find these teachings beautiful, and I uphold them now. Is it always easy? Absolutely not. Do I always want to obey them? No. But, the Church’s teachings on human sexuality have helped me far more than they have inhibited me.
In short, the language of marriage has become a reference point for me. God loves me so much He freely gives Himself to me, so personally and so intimately, that He became “flesh of my flesh” in the Incarnation, and continues to create new life in me, which I struggle with (as we all do) but try to bear forth to the world.
It really is as simple as this: God’s vision of married love tells the love story of the Gospel, and I am so captivated by Jesus’ poetic, romantic love for us, that I wouldn’t trade the Church’s teaching on marriage for anything in the world!
God bless you all!
Emily is a 23-year-old Theology student who spends her free time reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and dyeing her hair ridiculous colors. When she isn’t doing homework, she’s assisting with the youth ministry program at her parish.