Same-Sex Attraction: A Parent's Guide. Eds. John F. Harvey and Gerard V. Bradley. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 2003.
While perusing the holdings in the book stall after mass one Sunday, I came across this particular title. Scanning its table of contents, I discovered that it is an anthology of essays from top scholars, one of whom I am particularly fond of - Fr. Benedict Ashely, op. I decided then to purchase it and I'm glad I did.
Twelve writers have contributed to the fourteen articles appearing therein - one contributor having written two articles and the other coming from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The essays are grouped into four themes - science, morality, law, and pastoral considerations. The articles are fully footnoted.
I haven't read the entire book but will share some early impressions after having read the introduction and section dealing with pastoral considerations. Complementary information may be found here and a review here.
The introduction is written by a co-editor, Fr. Harvey, director of Courage, a Catholic homosexual-recovery agency. In addition to summarizing the essays, he mentions the motivation behind the book. The editors "weighed the need for a book which parents of persons with same-sex attraction (SSA) could read to understand the nature of the homosexual condition and the immorality of homogental acts."
The first essay in the patoral section is written by Helen Hull Hitchcock and is entitled "The Teaching of the Church." Ms. Hitchcock surveys the history of the Protestant and Catholic churches to see how these are informing supporting parents of persons with SSA. The picture she describes is that parents are not given a clear and consistant message from church leaders as a whole. For example, in the Catholic tradition the magisterium has been consistent but not other religious, citing cases of sisters, priests, and even bishops at variance with the Vatican.
In the next essay, written by Alan P. Medinger and entitled "Calling Oneself Gay or Lesbian Clouds One's Self-Perception," I was particularly struck by the distinction between "Identity" and "Life Style." The author, who describes his own movement away from a gay identity and its limitations, encourages parents to adopt a three-fold stance with these persons. Namely,
- See the child as a whole person instead of the "the homosexual" person;
- Love them and not accept their homosexual identity; and
- Supporting the child spiritually.
The third and final essay in this section is entitled "Questions and Answers for Parents of Persons with Same-Sex Attractions" and is written by Fr. Harvey. In a Q&A format he provides topics that have frequently come up in his dealings with parents of children with SSA, from the general - "What is homosexuality?", to more common one - "Are we parents to blame for our son or daughter's homosexuality?" There are 20 or so questions. He concludes by providing a bibliography and noting the availability of support groups such as EnCourage.