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When Heterosexuality Was Morbid

In Daniel Mattson’s book “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay,” he speaks of the necessity of winning back the language we use “to teach our children, and the society in which we live, who they really are, and how to love God and to pursue the path that God has marked out for human flourishing.” Primarily, he is referring to the “gay” identity, but did you know that there is also a problem with referring to people as “heterosexual?”

Deacon Jim Russell writes at Catholic World Report:

A show of hands, please: How many of you know that the term “heterosexual” was originally used to describe a condition that was considered, in clinical terms, like the term “homosexual,” to be “morbid” or “pathological”?

That’s right. These terms were first brought into use in the last decades of the 19th-century by psychologists seeking to classify sexual attractions, emotions, and acts—not persons, not “identities”—associated with sexual abnormality. Of course, this begs the question—if even “heterosexual” was pathological, what was considered “normal” sexual attraction, emotion, and act?

Normal sexual desires and behaviors all had procreative sex as their focus. Acts and desires that directed a person toward procreative sexual activity (acts that properly could lead to procreation) were considered “normal.” Acts and desires reflecting a “morbid passion” for non-procreative sex acts with someone of the other sex were classified as “heterosexual.” Similarly, acts and desires reflecting a “morbid passion” for obviously non-procreative sex acts with someone of the same sex were classified as “homosexual.” How many people are aware of this?

So, not only should we not identify someone as “gay,” we also should not identify ourselves as “heterosexual” if we are simply sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex.

No one — not one of us — should ever be reduced with an identity label to our sexual attractions. All of us are called to be “normal.” That is, we are called to live our lives in chastity regardless of our sexual attractions. We are called to use our bodies in accordance with what God has made us for.  We are called to have sexual relations only when they are open to life.

Hat-tip, Father Z

Give the Gift of Wine!

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