As I write, at the top of my blog it says “Catholic Bandita. Not merely flawed. Completely broken.” This is taken from Cardinal Barragan’s address “God’s Image in the Mentally Ill Person.” My mind is very intelligent, though not sound, but I do carry the Cross within me according to the Catholic Church. It’s important that you take what I say here with a grain of salt precisely because my mind is not sound. I am sharing subjective experience and understanding about the Catholic Church’s teaching on objective disorder and the Cross in the hopes that I can help those who have questions about this issue. You would do well to share what I write here with someone who is (1) completely sane, and (2) educated on the truths of the Catholic Faith, before taking it seriously. Having said that, it’s good advice for you to do that with virtually any Catholic blog you read.
Bipolar Disorder is, obviously to most people, a disorder. Same-sex attraction is, according to the Church, “objectively disordered.” The Courage apostolate has a good explanation of what objective disorder is and why people should not identify as “gay” or “lesbian.”
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.
In a nutshell, attraction to someone of the opposite sex is a natural thing that God puts into people for obvious reasons. Because of the Fall, people aren’t always born perfectly healthy. Anything about you (anything) can be “broken.” A baby born with a cleft palate is not less a person than any other baby. Thankfully, God has given the vast majority of us a natural desire to see such a child’s mouth repaired. Someone who has a desire to leave such a child in a mutilated condition, or to have their child’s mouth mutilated through surgery, has a desire that is “objectively disordered.” It is “objectively disordered” because it is neither natural to have such a desire, nor is it in keeping with God’s will for us. So it is with same-sex attraction and also with suicidal ideation that people with Bipolar Disorder experience. Unfortunately, also because of human nature, if it became more popular for children to have a mutilated mouth, more and more people would begin to agree that it is bad to treat a child with cleft palate. They might even say it is “hateful” to say cleft palate is a “disorder” that should be treated. Thankfully, we are not in such a world with cleft palate, but we are in such a world with same-sex attraction, where it is considered “hateful” to say that same-sex attraction is objectively disordered. “I was born this way” is supposed to be enough to advance that argument, but children with cleft palate were also “born that way.”
Like people with same-sex attraction, people with Bipolar Disorder frequently deal with a disordered desire — suicidal ideation. It is not natural, nor is it in keeping with God’s will, for someone to want to end his own life. The desire to end one’s own life is objectively disordered. It is also not natural, nor is it in keeping with God’s will, for someone to want to have sexual relations with someone of the same gender. Suicidal ideation and same-sex attraction are both objectively disordered.
I promise you, when I write about same-sex attraction, I am thinking of myself because I have Bipolar Disorder and suicidal ideation, so there is no “bigotry” involved in my discussion of this issue. The reason that I think it is important that I speak on this issue is because I have real-life experience with avoiding disorder and seeking God’s will instead of what my brain is telling me to do.
Desires that are disordered will lead us away from God. If I, as someone with Bipolar Disorder, want to kill myself, I am not thinking in accordance with God’s will for me. I cannot really help having suicidal ideation. It comes as the result of a physical condition that science still, thankfully, classifies as a “disorder.” People with Bipolar Disorder are at high risk for suicide. One in five people with Bipolar Disorder commit suicide. I would guess that close to 100% experience suicidal ideation (which is the equivalent of “same-sex attraction” philosophically speaking.) Unfortunately, scientists no longer classify same-sex attraction as “disorder.” God still does, though, and He allows it to occur in people the same as He allows other disorders to occur in people, like cleft palate, so that His glory might be manifest in the world as people minister to them in their struggles, helping them to be the saint God made them to be, and as they carry their Cross in the world….just like people with Bipolar Disorder need people to minister to them and help them to be the people God made them to be.
Just as many people with Bipolar Disorder commit suicide, it is becoming clear that as homosexuality has become normalized in the scientific community but not so much in the culture, there has been a problem of suicide among teenagers who identify as “gay.” The problem of teen suicide has been with us for some time, but it is believed that the suicide rate among teens who identify as “gay” is much higher than for teens who do not identify as “gay.” I accept as fact that this is a true assessment of the situation, and the reason that I accept it as fact is because of my experience in understanding suicidal ideation as it relates to finding one’s identity in a disorder.
I’m not sure why this is so difficult for so many to understand unless it is that they do not want to understand. They don’t want to see reality here. If you find your identity in something bad, then you will see yourself as bad. If the core of your identity is in something that is a disorder, you will hate yourself. This is why teens who identify as “gay” commit suicide much more frequently than other teens, and it is why people with Bipolar Disorder commit suicide, as well. It is when I find my identity in ugliness that I consider suicide.
When we find our identity in what God has created us to be, rather than in disorder, that is when we find true happiness. Finding identity in disorder is the path of misery.
According to Reuters, there is now a “finding” published claiming that kids who identify as “gay” are less likely to commit suicide if they are in a “supportive environment.” That is, an environment where people reinforce in them the idea that “same-sex attraction” is a positive good….not morally neutral and not “bad.” I must say that I do hope no one ever decides to be “supportive” of me in my suicidal ideations, as we see with the deeds of Jack Kevorkian. While I would never wish for anyone to be in an environment that is not supportive, encouraging people to find their identity in disorder is, and will always be, the road to death.
It is a great struggle to deny ourselves, to pick up our crosses and to follow Him, but this is the path of the Christian. My advice to Christian pastors is to be aware that if they allow people in their care to find their identity in disorder, they are robbing them of the true happiness that can only be found in God.