Here are answers to some questions that Courage website visitors often ask. If you have questions you would like answered, feel free to send them to the
Courage Central Office
We would be glad to answer your questions, and they may end up on this page too.
Q. Why are same-sex attractions considered "objectively disordered"? Isn't that a harsh term?
A. The term "objective disorder" is a philosophical term. It is used to describe homosexual attractions because such attractions can never lead to a morally good sexual act.
It may be objected that a man lusting for a woman is a disordered act, but the inclination to such an act is considered natural but misdirected under ordinary circumstances. Under the circumstance of marriage however this inclination is good because it leads to a strengthening of the union between a man and woman and the procreation of a child.
The term "objective disorder" may strike some of us with same-sex attractions as being harsh, because we feel that we never asked to have homosexual attractions and we fear that this term is in some way condemnatory or derogatory. It is important to remember that "objective disorder" is a philosophical term which describes a particular inclination - it does not diminish our value and worth in the eyes of God.
It is psychologically understandable that certain people struggle with homosexual attractions. The Church recognizes this and does not condemn people for simply having these attractions; however, the Church also teaches that homosexual acts are always immoral, and therefore, one must also accept that the inclination to engage in such acts is, philosophically speaking, objectively disordered.
Above all, we must keep in mind that homosexual inclinations do not make up our true identity as rational or Christian persons. We are first and foremost men and women created in the image of God - we are exceedingly precious in God's sight and we have been given the gifts of intelligence and free-will. We can live a life of union with Christ, through prayer, and we can know the peace of interior chastity. This is God's desire for us, and He continually gives us the grace to live it.
Q. Does Courage force it's members to try to change their orientation?
A. Courage members are under no obligation to try to develop heterosexual attractions, because there is no guarantee that a person will always succeed in such an endeavour. Courage's aim is to help persons with same-sex attractions develop a life of interior chastity in union with Christ. If any of our members wish to go to professionals to explore the possibility of heterosexual development, we will stand by them, by helping them to keep the deepening of their Catholic faith and obedience to Christ as their first priority. Courage itself does not provide professional therapy. Some of our members have found varying levels of heterosexual development to be a by-product of living a chaste life for a period of time; however, the goal and focus of Courage remains a life of interior chastity, humility, and holiness, which can be achieved by all, with God's grace.
Q. Is Courage an Ex-Gay Ministry?
A. Courage does not consider itself an Ex-Gay ministry for the following reason: Many Courage members have never labelled themselves "gay" prior to coming to Courage. This does not mean that they were unaware of their experience of same-sex attractions - it simply means that they had never chosen to label themselves "gay" in the first place, either because of a dislike of the reductionist nature of the term "gay", or because they kept their same-sex attractions private. Courage prefers to think of itself as a "Pro-Chastity" ministry.
Q. I see that Courage meetings sometimes use a 12-Step format. Does this mean Courage thinks same-sex attracted people are all addicts or that homosexuality is a disease or illness?
A. The 12-Step format is integral to Courage meetings. Each step is concerned with one or more virtues; they call us to take action and focus on ourselves as persons. However, while this format is useful for those who are dealing with addictions, it must not be assumed that Courage, by utilizing the 12-Step process, believes that all same-sex attracted individuals are struggling with addictions or that homosexuality is a disease or illness. In fact, Courage recognizes the universal application of the 12-Step process for any person desiring to grow spiritually. This is explained in Philip St. Romain's book Becoming a New Person: 12 Steps to Christian Growth.
Q. Why doesn't Courage refer to its membership as "gay" or "lesbian"?
Courage sees persons with same-sex attractions first and foremost as men and women created in the image of God, with a vocation to live a chaste and holy life through an ever-deepening union with Christ.
Some people say that identifying themselves as "gay" or "lesbian" either privately or publicly simply means that they are acknowledging that their emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are predominantly and persistently towards the same sex. They hold that these words are simple but essential descriptors for a key part of their identity and claim that the adoption of these labels are a way of "owning" their sexuality and facing the reality of "who they are." Further, they hold that such labels do not interfere with or diminish their commitment to chastity.
While this may be true for some, there are others for whom the embracing of LGBTQ terminology is a stumbling block, for the following reasons:
It draws them into a more secular milieu, causing them to be more tempted to pursue a sexually active homosexual relationship.
It makes them more susceptible to embracing the politics of "gay" activism which is often at odds with the Church's moral teachings, especially in the area of marriage.
It influences them to disregard or gloss over the Church's teachings on the inclination to homosexual activity being objectively disordered, because the world often propounds the idea that "all things 'gay' are good."
The experience of sexuality in all its subtleties and nuances does indeed have a powerful influence on our experience of life and on how we interact with others; however, we would be mistaken to root our identity in those very subjective currents that can overwhelm us and sometimes lead us astray, apart from the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
Courage also considers the example our adult membership and our pastoral outreach sets for young people whose psychosexual development is still in a very formative stage. Premature self-labelling may discourage a young person from being open to the possibility of further psychosexual development. It may also cause a young person to be more vulnerable to confusion and temptation in the three ways described earlier.
This is why Courage considers it pastorally prudent to avoid terms that may be stumbling blocks to others; accordingly, we gently encourage our membership to think beyond the labels "gay" and "lesbian," while we strive together to grow in our essential identity as men and women formed in God's image, created for intimate and eternal union with Christ.
Q. What is the Courage Reparational Group? Does it have anything to do with "Reparative" Therapy?
The Courage Reparational Group consists of men and women who desire to unite themselves with Our Lord particularly in their weakness while praying for the conversion and healing of those who struggle with same-sex desires. This is NOT a group that seeks conversion to heterosexual desires; rather we join in prayer that we, and all who live with same-sex atractions, may come closer to Our Lord as His beloved children.
Q. Does Courage believe that someone can "pray away the gay?"
The phrase "pray away the gay" conveys the simplistic notion that a sufficient amount of prayer will always and everywhere deliver a person from the desire for sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex.
Courage understands the complexity of same-sex attraction: The many possible contributing factors to the development of such attractions can vary from person to person, and some people may experience same-sex attractions periodically throughout the course of their lives.
The focus of Courage ministry is the development of a life of interior chastity in union with Christ. Chastity itself is the fruit of a dynamic relationship with Christ based on love, discipleship, holiness, and charity. Courage believes with the Church that all persons are called to, and are capable of living a life of holiness and chastity. This is true no matter what our attractions or temptations may be, and even if particular vulnerabilities remain with us for our whole lives.
Each human being is free to ask God for deliverance from specific weaknesses, but we may find, like St. Paul, that God allows us to remain weak in certain areas, so that we will rely more on His grace and strength and grow in humility:
"Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself. About this, I have three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me; but he has answered me, 'My grace is enough for you: for power is at full strength in weakness.' It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me; and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ's sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong" (2 Corinthians, 12:7-10).
If a particular individual finds it helpful to pray for ongoing inner healing and protection from external temptations, he/she is always free to do so. Courage prays with and for all its members to grow continually in their relationship with Christ and to continually receive all the grace and blessings the Holy Spirit has to offer. Courage also believes the greatest healing is the union of a soul with Jesus Christ and the continual turning of that soul to Christ for strength, even in the midst of weaknesses and temptations.
Our focus, therefore, is not on "praying away the gay," but on learning to live as faithful disciples of Christ and His Church. This we strive to do one day at a time, with the aid of prayer, the sacraments, good fellowship, and spiritual support.
Q. What does it mean to 'accept' persons with same-sex attraction?
Let’s start with the words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2358:
‘The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.’
To accept a person means that we love and welcome that person with all their strengths and weaknesses. When we come to know another person’s weaknesses, we should be sensitive to their vulnerabilities and show compassion. If others mock or misjudge someone for their weakness, we must be the first to come to that person’s defense.
Acceptance of another human being does not necessarily mean that we will agree with all his/her decisions and life-style choices, and sometimes love requires us to make our disagreement known. For example, if two same-sex attracted people are having a “wedding/commitment” ceremony, a practicing Catholic cannot in good conscience attend that ceremony. This doesn’t mean you don’t love or care for the individuals involved, although some will accuse you of this.
There are many opportunities to reach out and show others we love them and care about them, even when their lifestyles or beliefs differ from our own. The more time we ourselves spend in prayer and strive to grow in our relationship with Christ, the more the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts with love, understanding, and patience.
God accepts us with all our weaknesses. His generous love and mercy inspires us to strive anew each day to live with greater faithfulness and obedience to the Truth, through His grace and strength. May our own example of love and acceptance of others draw those around us to the joy of salvation we have found in Jesus Christ and in the teachings of His Church.