For many years, I rejected chastity while thinking I was truly free. However, that kept me from being able to experience love and joy in the way God designed, which I now experience today as a man who strives to live chastely.
The Pursuit of Truth
With same-sex attractions and transgender inclinations being part of my story, I knew I had to grow in my understanding of chastity because some Christians were saying that I should find a boyfriend and settle down because I was a “gay Christian,” while others were saying that all people are invited to pursue the fullness of virtue (with chastity being only one of many virtues). These opposing messages made me wonder to myself, “How could both be true?”
Furthermore, I could no longer be honest with myself and pretend that I was fully open to growing in holiness while being closed to growing in the fullness of virtue. This wake-up call only came after having my mind blown, realizing that the Church isn’t the inventor but rather is the upholder of truth.
For All People
After realizing that chastity is a calling for all people (not just people like me), I realized that I had been swept up in a false “victim” narrative for some time, as though the Church was singling out people like me. In reality, it was me rejecting the Church! This made me want to know even more. Like, what else might have I gotten wrong? This was a humbling (but necessary) awakening.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered that chastity wasn’t the same thing as abstinence or celibacy, and that chastity was ultimately about the degree to which I’d open my heart to the Lord. Again, I used to blame others, but then I realized that this was about my choice to love God more completely. Also, this rocked my world because for the longest time, I was too focused on trying to do “Catholic-looking behaviors” instead of developing a heart of holiness.
Following that, I realized that just because I might’ve been virtuous in some areas, it didn’t give me a “free-pass” to become closed to other virtues. I know some Catholics who think it does, if you can believe it. It’s saddening to hear but it makes me even more motivated to invite people into a journey of discovery about what holiness really means.
Respecting and Honoring the Divine Artist
It finally “clicked” that God is the Divine Artist and for me to love Him more completely, I should, at the very least, strive to honor and respect His artwork (the order of creation). Through that, I came to know what striving for holiness (and avoiding sin) could look like in a concrete way. This was helpful because without that concrete understanding, how sure of myself could I have ever been about my direction? Anyway, my view of holiness shifted from being about Catholic-looking behaviors to striving to die to my own attachments (further abandoning my will to the Lord) in any/every context where I saw that my attachments were counter to that God-authored order of creation.
The Order of Creation and Relationships
Even if I was sexually/romantically attracted to some guy, he would become, at best, a friend, and nothing more. Why? Because honoring God’s artwork (physiological complementarity) means more to me than satisfying some desire (or some attachment to my own ideas of “who I am.” And I certainly wouldn’t have gotten to this point If I was still thinking that God “made me that way” (which at one point, I claimed was my conscience speaking but now see it was merely a reflection of my own desires and attachments).
And that was the surprise twist of pursuing a heart of chastity, the overarching after-effect is that I realized the same-sex sexual/romantic attractions and transgender inclinations I was experiencing diminished, at first without me even realizing it. I never aimed for that, nor did I even pray for that. It simply came as a result of striving to let go of my own attachments to this world, while also striving to fill my heart with the Lord, the Person who loves me the most, and the best. And today I experience a joy that I hope and pray so many others might come to also taste.
Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker, author, and consultant who lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at National and International conferences in the United States and Canada and also presents to clergy, schools, and parishes. Additionally, Hudson serves as a consultant to various Catholic agencies, speakers, and educators. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com and he can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.