Brandon Vogt

The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

Third Way

About 18 months ago, a priest friend of mine, Fr. John Hollowell, asked if I could help spread the word about his new film project. It was a crowdsourced documentary on homosexuality and the Catholic Church, using powerful story, beautiful imagery, and stirring music to dispel misconceptions about the Church’s position.

Fr. John HollowellIt only took a few weeks to raise 100% of the funds. After several months of work, Fr. John and Blackstone Films released the documentary last Sunday, April 27. It’s titled “The Third Way”, an allusion to the Catholic position on homosexuality, which rejects both anti-gay bigotry on the one hand and the unqualified endorsement of homosexual activity on the other.

Magnificent and moving, the film features first-hand testimony from several faithful Catholics who struggle with homosexual attraction. Most of them were heavily involved in the gay scene before committing to chastity. Their experiences shed new light and reveal how Catholics can help those experiencing same-sex attraction. Their stories ultimately affirm the great joy and freedom found in the Church’s teaching, a “third way” centered on authentic love.

Take 30 minutes and watch the entire documentary below. You’ll hardly find a more powerful and uplifting film:

Below, you’ll find an interview I did with Fr. John about the film and its message:

Q: From your view as a priest, what are the biggest confusions surrounding the Church’s teaching on homosexuality?
 
I think the biggest confusion is that good, faithful Catholics are often told very aggressively what it is that their Church believes by people who don’t truly understand our positions or our reasons for those positions.

The Church’s teachings on homosexuality and same-sex attraction are layered, nuanced, scientific, and based on authentic psychology. But most Catholics have not had the position stated to them clearly and articulately, so when those outside the Church seek to tell Catholics what they believe, most are unable to respond.

Q: You chose a documentary-style film for your project. Why that form instead of a book, YouTube video, or blog post?

Great question! I’m convinced that a concise documentary film is the medium that will have the largest impact. There are lots of good books out there on the subject already. Lots of great and faithful bloggers have done wonderful blog posts trying to help people understand the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

But there is a big problem with the ways faithful Catholics are trying to explain ourselves. This is the Twitter generation and so we want things short, concise, and clear. To get a lot of people to read a book would be considered nothing short of miraculous. As a Catholic blogger, as much as I like to deceive myself sometimes, I know most Catholics don’t read blogs.

Yet people today will watch a video if it is well done. It it is made with the quality and professionalism they have come to expect from Hollywood films, people will give it a try. It also helps if the film is concise, not rambling all over the place but focuses on the message it’s trying to present.

I looked at other options but remain convinced that a passionate, professional, high quality, 30 minute documentary video is the best way to help turn the tide in our country on this key issue of homosexuality.

Q: How does the Catholic Church’s teaching on “natural law” apply to homosexuality?

“Natural law” is an ancient philosophical/theological concept which says that there are things that all human persons know to be right and wrong, regardless of whether they believe in God. “Natural law” also has a slightly different usage where it refers to the fact that people have a nature, and if we do things that are against our nature, we can’t help but be miserable. Both of these usages stand against homosexual activity.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who, on the one hand, experiences same-sex attraction while, on the other hand, wants to follow the Church’s teaching?

My advice would be to listen to the many other Catholics out there who also experience same-sex attraction, and nonetheless find the Church to be a source of great comfort, compassion, and guidance.There are some great authors out there who have written powerfully about their Catholic faith and their same-sex attraction, and so I would steer people towards them.

People don’t listen to authority much anymore, so I would put them in touch with someone who is from their same situation in life who could help them see through all the confusion that is out there about what the Church actually teaches on this topic.

Q: Suppose you had a platform to speak to millions of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, who are angry and hurt by the Church’s position on homosexuality. The catch is that you can only deliver one sentence. What would you say?

I say this compassionately: you don’t really know what the Church teaches on this topic nor do you know why the Church teaches what it does, but if you watch our documentary you will be absolutely amazed and completely surprised.

 


 
In addition to The Third Way, I also suggest these great resources for anyone struggling with, or wanting to learn more about, the Church’s graceful teachings on homosexuality:

Books

Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding by Fr. Lou Cameli
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions by Fr. John Harvey
Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism by Melinda Selmys
The Courage to be Chaste by Fr. Benedict Groeschel
The Truth of Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful by Fr. John Harvey

Blogs and Websites

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine
Courage
Sexual Authenticity
 


 
Be sure to check out the “Third Way” website and share the film with others.

If you liked this discussion, you’ll find several more on my Interviews page. Subscribe free via feed reader or email and ensure sure you don’t miss future interviews.
 

  • ToS999

    The big negative: The video fails to mention the primary purpose of sex and marriage: the procreation of children, and their education. The failure to mention this weakens the video’s ability to make a convincing argument to both homosexuals and heterosexuals that homosexual activity is wrong.

    Positive aspect: it’s was good to mention that it is homosexual activity that is wrong, not simply the people who have these attractions.

  • Mihail

    Hi everyone!

    My name is Mihail, i am from a country from Eastern Europe.

    I don’t tend to look like a hero BUT i’ve been struggling with homosexuality myself. Right now is more anxiety about it, fears of the future etc etc.
    I’ll explain:
    I grew up with my grandparents, my mom died when i turned 8(due to the illness) and i never basically knew my dad.
    I was a VERY FREE young boy living with grandparents, i knew they love me()maybe not so much as i understand now) but at the same time i was free to do anything my heart desired.
    The homosexual problems started back when i was in kidengarten. A friend of mine thretened me to do something sexual for him(oral) in other case he would tel his mother that i hit him. He told me that his mother was bad with him, and how she was beating him with belt everytime he was doing something wrong. So i did that for him, not knowing or understanding what is it for. Later on i started to like guys(their tongue, dna etc). The story with this friend continued after my mother passed away. I had dreams and fantasies about kissing with him so i met him couple of more times. When i was 9 years old my relatives and my cousins took me and my grandma to a church that they were following so i started following as well , that is till i was 14 when they emmigrated to United States. I was still going some sundays but not all the time. My grandma was doing it mostly.
    At about 15 i saw a picture of a naked guy on the internet and the homosexual desires came back. And it got worse when in college when i was 17 – guys showed me porn, and i was turned on my males. Later on i understood that there are such people as gay, and i thought that that means i should follow this life, because the sex fantasies were very strong, and i also started watching gay porn. But this shiver in me and fear was always with me. I thought something is wrong but at the same time i was thinking maybe cuz in my society this isn’t spread, that it’s shame – i thought maybe that’s what causing my fear and i have to “be a man” and follow my sexual desires. I set a date with an old guy (he was 44) and after 2 days i suppose to met him, and he told me that we will go to his apartment. And i understood what i was going for. But told myself that i have to do this! For these 2 days i couldn’t eat, cuz when i am afraid of something i feel the need to throw up.
    And so we met, but when going to his apartment he told me to wait for him so he can go first and i should come in 5 minutes so it would not be too suspecting. And when i was almost was about to go in i saw some guys staring weird at me and i got afraid that i will be raped and i ran. I didn’t has any physical act of homosexuality and think God for that.
    However, my life was empty, no friends and nothing to do. When my grandma and i moved to a different place from the poor one that i used to live in, i became different with people knowing that i’m not that poor guy anymore with a bad smell from his close. I also signed up for my church’s choir and having a new family made my world great. I started later on to follow my church’s meetings and i had changed. But the problem of homosexuality wasn’t really gone, i was still watching porn time to time but paid not very much attention to homosexual stuff i thought that in time it will go away. Not by a long shot!!! Even after getting baptised, i was still watching some stuff “in hiding” even if it was for couple of seconds. It followed with web(virtual) sex sometimes, but real struggles started when i was 22 and started masturbating from this. Now i am 25. I am not doing that again, although for some reasons some images are still in my head and sometimes i am really afraid, but by starting doing some counseling therapy and now seeking to get close to God it comes more clear the situation and there is a lot of work probably to be done but i am not stopping. God is with me, He accepts and loves me the way i am right now and i wanna change and follow His way.

  • Sarah0924

    I just saw The Third Way yesterday. I have been struck by how as a heterosexual I also need this message of chastity in my own life. The pop culture all around us has “disordered” much of what we all find sexual, no matter our inclination. A beautiful film and message. I am excited to share with my friends and family.

  • Bishoy

    The video is actually very selective in its quotations of the Catechism, and does not quote the other parts that would contradict the narrative of the video and its story-tellers: the story-tellers are speaking of their own unwanted “attractions” that developed in them because of traumatic childhood experiences, whether it be because of an absent father (figure) because of rape and resentment of the rapists, etc. The Catechism, on the other hand, is speaking of “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and “inclination,” which tends towards speaking of a sexual “orientation” and not just unwanted “attractions.” It also does not claim to know the origins of the sexual orientation (“Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained” #2357), whereas the video makes it clear that it’s only a problem of nurture. While I agree that those folks are courageous about speaking on their desires and upbringing, they’re addressing specifically the spiritual and psychological help that their Catholic faith provided for transforming them into happier people, but they do not speak for people who have a same-sex orientation.

    • Bishoy–I think you should re-watch the video. While 2 of the people speaking do mention having such things as childhood trauma, all of them do not. Nor does the video once attempt to identify those as “the causes” of homosexuality. It tells stories. Their stories. My story. As to it being selective in its use of the Catechism, I think that too is an unfair assessment. In truth it presents a couple of major objections, such as the oft-misuse of the term “disorder,” which I have been attempting to share with people for years after my return to the Church. We are all disordered and Jason Evert for one clearly shares that in one section of the film. Nor does it mention or suggest such controversial approaches as reparative therapy or attempt to push “ex gay” concepts on the audience either. It shows, simply, no more or less, that celibacy and the Sacramental life are the main answers to this issue in many of our lives and gives authentic hope without overselling. That is the message here. The video, unless I have missed a major section of it, never “makes it clear” as you suggest that homosexuality is nurture without nature. Science has not determined this, nor has the Church. Nor did this video. It simply tells a story worth telling, and one that in most circles on either “side” of the issue has been passed over again and again. As I said, I have lived it. All three views at one time or another. And, IMHO, the Catholic approach, accurately portrayed as in “The Third Way,” is very honestly the most balanced all around. I would again suggest watching it one more time without your seeming biases. And believe me I know that is not easy. I still have my wounds from both the Church and the actively LGBT leadership and so I watched it almost EXPECTING to dislike it, and observed carefully with every bit of critical thinking I could muster–and I found nothing I could majorly disagree within it. I have been, as Brandon knows, a married Assemblies of God minister, a 15 year LGBT activist, and finally a celibate Roman Catholic after returning to the Church in 2005. And the only lasting peace I have ever found is in the “Third Way” as presented here. Blessings to you in your search. But I would challenge you to dig a bit deeper still on this very emotional topic. I am glad God zeroed in on me and did not allow me to settle for one “side” or the other.

  • May I humbly suggest my website too? I have numerous articles on SSA and my own experiences, victories and struggles which ultimately led me once and for all to “all things Catholic.” While I have had my imperfect moments I am standing strongly where I need to be these days and I know you are well aware of my story too. Just saying…

    • alohalady

      Richard……what is your website ???

      • Just click on my picture and it will link to it…thanks so much for your interest!

  • MLSOUTH

    We need these courageous men and women with homosexual attractions to take this message on the road!

© 2017 Brandon Vogt

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