“On the following day, he would go forth into Galilee, and he findeth Philip. And Jesus saith to him: Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth?” (John 1: 43-6)
When St. Joseph returned to his homeland, after being exiled in Egypt, he bypassed Jerusalem and brought the Christ-Child and Our Lady to the relative backwater of Nazareth. There, the Boy Jesus was raised in obscurity. For, Nazareth was an isolated point of safety – far away from the court and Temple machinations that were taking place in the capital. In Nazareth, alongside his foster-father Joseph, Our Lord was instructed in the Jewish Faith, and it was where He Prayed; it was also where He entered into the world of men – laboring with His hands and where He humbly took His place next to Joseph.
Prayer, work, and study – all in humility: this is Nazareth in the Life of Our Savior. Those of us who are burdened with homosexuality, an addiction to pornography, or any other wound inflicted upon the male heart, we must all leave whatever situation we now find ourselves, taking nothing along for the journey, and make our way to the insignificant town of Nazareth. The arguments and intrigue that swirl about our affliction must be dropped by the wayside and our only accompaniment will be the guiding glistening light emanating from the carpenter’s shop of Jesus and Joseph; who, even through the darkness of night – keep a small oil-lamp burning to help steer the course of those seeking out Truth and Justice.
Because, we have all been deceived: tricked into believing that we were born a certain way, or that within the flickering images on a computer screen, we could finally lose ourselves and find moments of blissful peace – now, we are desperate and willing to walk across the rugged and stony ground of Galilee.
Yet, this journey, that every broken man must take – can begin anywhere. I started my pilgrimage, sprawled out on an emergency room gurney, after a particularly rough night of gay sex. I was battered and bloodied; I had spent the past 10 years merrily tripping down the yellow-brick-road towards some “gay” rainbow city that always seemed just out-of-reach. As I laid there – vomiting my guts out, a nurse threw wide open the curtain around my cubicle: and the hollow ugliness of what I had become was suddenly revealed to me. I knew instantaneously at that moment, everything needed to change.
My first steps towards Nazareth began rather inexplicably: while at the hospital, I was bleeding from every orifice; then, I had to use the toilet. I asked the nurse, and she pointed across the way to the restroom. I could barely walk. At the time, I didn’t know it, but as I went along – I was leaving a little trail of red droplets. When I got there, and I tried to relieve myself – blood went everywhere and I had to call for help. What little pride I had left was gone forever.
I spent over a decade among the false idols in Egypt: I was drunk and I knelt before the graven images I created. I was promised much, but I left with nothing.
Unlike my Old Testament namesake – I was not sold into slavery, but went willingly. I thought that sexual liberation would make me into a man; it didn’t. When I walked away, I was a scared little boy; except, now, I was covered in sores – I felt cursed.
As I crawled hopelessly through the darkness, every door that I passed by, immediately closed just as I began to approach it. I heard everyone say – “Let him be; God made him that way.” But, somewhere ahead of me, there was always a dim light that drew me ever nearer.
When I finally reached the doorstep to what I could see was an inconsequential and modest dwelling – I pushed my head up against the slight space between the floor and the bottom of the door. Within the candle-lit interior, I could make-out three figures: a man, a woman, and a young boy. Suddenly, the door opened – and I was caught laying dumbstruck – blooded and stinking of dirt and sweat. As I slobbered with my face in the dust, the man picked me up; he pressed me close to him. I was cold and I could feel the warmth of his body. All my life, all I ever wanted was for a man to hold me – I was frightened, so many men had touched me in the past, promising love, but abandoning me soon afterward – yet, with this man, I reached out for him. Then, I could feel the boy beginning to wash my lacerated feet and the women wiping the tears from my face.
I spent many months with this family – that father was my protector and my guide: the more I stayed with him, watched him, and admired him – the more I wanted to be like him. The love that he partook in – for the boy, and for the woman, was something I wanted to have for myself. And, as a fellow man, I learned that what I can bring to others is wholly unique. And, even though this man had nothing to do with the making of the boy living in his home – his love for him was still all-the-more fatherly because his love was based not solely on genetics, but on the resolute strength of self-sacrifice and masculine duty which only men can share. That does not mean that women are relegated to strictly a secondary role; for they occupy the esteemed station as the essential life-bearers; but men, especially for boys, are the models by which they will eventually pass away from the safety of their mothers shadow and into the larger world outside. If they do not – they remain stunted and ever questing for that which they did not receive.
There is a kind of love that only a man can give; and there is a kind of love that only a woman can give: one makes us feel safe, that other makes us feel special. Both are equally worthy, but when they work in union – this is where they become truly powerful.
Without a father, it will be difficult for a young boy to understand his place among other men, to understand his obligation to women, to children, and to the helpless, and how his identity is only fulfilled when his love is expressed in a way that is completely self-giving. For this reason, homosexuality, which is the combination of a non-complimentary pair, in the case of men, two individuals who should be giving, are doomed to restless unhappiness as each wants to receive love from the other, but are frustrated because no one is there to provide it. They didn’t get it from their fathers, who are now gone – so existence becomes one long look for “daddy.”
During boyhood, a unique time when males are in an intermediary stage between infancy and adolescence, it’s crucial that they bond with their fathers: as teenagers, for the most part, boys will be wholly unwilling to snuggle close to their fathers while watching TV, or run crying to dad – after falling of their bike, or endlessly trail after their father as he works in the yard or the garage. Without this contact, as a boy enters puberty, his father will be perceived as distant and alien. The love they should have received from their fathers, but never did – leaves a hole in the middle of the person; that most, spend the rest of their lives trying to fill. Sadly, that painful emptiness will remain unhealed until the individual realizes that men can only be made whole by giving love rather than constantly looking to receive it. In turn, once we unselfishly and selflessly give love, we will be loved in turn.
With Joseph at Nazareth, there is no better example of a man who thought nothing for himself – but only for others; yet, in his humble self-sacrifice, he was ultimately raised up through the joy he brought to the world through those he served. We too, no matter our present state, can share in this joy – first, by our silence and by observing, and then by learning from what we have seen.
Although I was never in the little house at Nazareth, in a sense I was there – for I saw St. Joseph – the Father, Our Lady – the Mother, and Our Lord Jesus Christ – the child, in every Christian family that befriended me; again, I was the lost and lonely traveler, but they took me in. In that, my standards for masculinity became every ordinary dad who prayed for his family, taught them right from wrong, and worked hard in self-giving love.
No matter where you are today, you can also begin this journey to Nazareth. It doesn’t matter if you are in a gay bar, cruising Grindr, or watching internet porn; at these desperate times of loss and loneliness – this is the best moment to leave it all behind you. For where has your desperation taken you – only into more desperation. Leave now. The little village of Nazareth is everywhere: and, within the Christian community – that is a family, awaits the possibility of health and healing.
Note: Part and parcel with the possibility of healing from male woundedness, through the family, necessitates the charity of healthy heterosexual men and women to open their hearts to those who have been so severely hurt; while women are often on very good terms with “gay” men, heterosexual males have a much more difficult time relating. Yet, the motherly affection and sympathy from heterosexual women towards “gay” men – if removed from the context of the family, which includes a husband or father, can quickly become cloying and ultimately confirming of the orientation.
In addition, priests who are completely secure in their masculinity – need to step forward. Unfortunately, many of the type of priests who are so needed in this ministry have often been the ones most reticent to do so. Therefore, when Bishops are faced with how and who should outreach to the gay community – often those that volunteer are men with a particular penchant for gay-affirmation and or are have their own inner-identity issues. Then, what is created in the often toxic atmospheres of gay-approving ministries is a self-confirming environment in which everyone becomes securely entrenched within the homosexual orientation.
Some “gay” Catholics are recreating these circles of homosexual safety and mutual validation on a micro-level by seeking out special “spiritual friendships.” This is the exact opposite of what should be done, because it is only though our adult relationships with those whom we most feared, the straight boys who rejected us as children, will we make progress in moving beyond homosexuality.
There is no third-sex, and there is no “gay” community: chaste, Catholic, pagan, promiscuous or otherwise; what you have in homosexuality is a forced collectivization of men, for whatever reason, felt disaffected from the gender they were born into, and sought protection among similarly confused men. Subsequently, within these communes, gradations of masculinity are quickly asserted, literally from “top” to “bottom,” and a sexualized ritual of male affirmation becomes established. Consequently, those who most closely correspond to the masculine ideal – are idolized; everyone else is sublimated to a secondary position, and thus become singularly occupied with the supposed manly love they can receive from those at the top.
Only, no one is actually affirmed in masculinity through homosexuality. For, the sex act is deceiving; in that, we think we are receiving love from a man; however, it’s a mockery of the love we should have received from our fathers when we were boys. Hence, the continued scourge of HIV within the gay male population, and the more recent reappearances of syphilis and the emergence of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea. This is emblematic of every false historical narrative: what you actually get – is the opposite of what you were promised; in the case of “gay,” you get death.
What “gay” men actually need are guys built like Joseph of Nazareth: fortified in strength, but tempered by the fatherly continence of gentleness and compassion; men who are secure enough in their manhood, that they can remain humble, quiet and distinctly disengaged from the egotistical squabblings of the male-centered intellectual bravado circles of chauvinistic intellectualism; these are men who are more prone to working on a problem with their hands than constantly discoursing it to death; men who hug rather than coldly shake hands; men who love their families and, most importantly, men who are self-assured enough to understand that their sympathy for those weaker souls does not impinge upon their own masculinity, but actually reveals their true worth as a man; as St. Francis of Assisi once said: “For it is in giving that we receive…”
Almost every “gay” man had a heterosexual father, therefore heterosexual men were instrumental in creating this problem; now, they need to be instrumental in healing it.