Here are some answers to questions that Courage gets asked frequently. 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 doesn't Courage use the terms "gay" and "lesbian"?
A. Courage discourages persons with same-sex attractions from labeling themselves "gay" and "lesbian" for the following reasons:
1) The secular world usually uses those terms to refer to someone who is either actively homosexual or intends to be. When a person decides to "come out" and say "I am gay" or "I am lesbian", the person usually means "this is who I am - I was born this way and I intend to live this way. I have a right to find a same-sex partner with whom to have a romantic sexual relationship." To "come out" as being "gay" or "lesbian" doesn't usually mean "I have homosexual attractions and I have a deep commitment to living a chaste life".
2) By labeling someone, we discourage those who may wish to try and move beyond homosexual attractions. Some people, especially young people, are able to further their psychosexual development with spiritual and psychological aid. If we labeled them "gay" and "lesbian", they might think there's no possibility of moving beyond these attractions.
3) There is more to a person than one's sexual attractions. Even if one experienced same-sex attractions for most of one's life, he or she is first and foremost a child of God created in His image. To refer to that person as "gay" or "lesbian" is a reductionist way of speaking about someone. We are even trying now to avoid using the term homosexual as a noun, or as an adjective directly describing the person (i.e. homosexual person). Although it takes more words, we prefer to speak of "persons with same-sex attractions". Fr. Harvey has said that, if he could, he would rename his first book "The Homosexual Person" to something else like "The Person With Homosexual Attractions".
There are people within the Catholic Church who might argue that those who label themselves "gay" or "lesbian" aren't necessarily living unchastely. That's true, but the implications of the terms in today's society don't commonly connote chaste living. Furthermore, they are limiting their own possibilities of growth by such self-labeling, and reducing their whole identity by defining themselves according to their sexual attractions. At Courage, we choose not to label people according to an inclination which, although psychologically understandable, is still objectively disordered.
Q. Why are homosexual 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 is objected that if a man lusts for a woman or vice versa, this too is an objective disorder. This latter example is not an objective disorder, because, if the man or woman learns to control their heterosexual attraction, and wills to express it in the natural state of marriage, it is a good thing.
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 struggle with homosexuality private. Courage prefers to think of itself as a "Pro-Chastity" ministry.