Monday, 2 December 2013

Catholic response to Tom Daley

So we find out today that a sporting superstar who has been under the media spotlight from a very tender age is pleased to tell us that he is now in a relationship with another man.

I teach in a school, the Catholic response to such items of news, irrespective of their newsworthyness, is important.

My first thought is to say, congratulations! I'm glad that he has found someone that he can be involved with in a mutually supportive way.  A life under the media spotlight must be dreadful, lonely and weird, anything approaching support and comfort from another human being is to be welcomed.  However that is not my Catholic response.  This doesn't mean that I only wear my Catholicism as a hat that I can take off at times, but this response must be seen in the light of my faith which ought to provide the fullest response, if I think and pray about this carefully.

I can only begin to imagine the crazy fan mail he has received from obsessive, hormonal teenage girls.  The poor boy has had his body on display to the world for so long and it has always grieved me that this has been the case.  We have no control over how others view images of us. I can only begin to imagine what bizarre and uncomfortable view he must have of female sexuality when expressed through such mail.  I can fully understand that it would be another man who could offer sensitivity and love to the real Tom Daley, that all seems to make perfect sense.

Being a Catholic means putting Christ first in everything.  It means that all relationships with all creatures are subordinate to our relationship with Our Lord and Saviour.  I have no idea if Tom is seeking friendship and communion with Christ.  I have no idea if he realises that all happiness ultimately comes through Christ and all lasting joy is actually a share in His life.

So, if he is not interested in God, does it matter what he is doing?  Yes.  Tom has made it matter by releasing this into the public domain.  He thinks it is important, therefore it IS important.  So if we fail to respond, we are failing in our love for all men.

So (prayerfully) I think the Catholic response is as follows (please add your pennorth if you think I'm wrong):

People love each other, irrespective of gender and sexuality.  True love is self-sacrificing, mutually enriching, faithful and committed.  Catholics believe that outside of marriage (and two men cannot marry) all love must be self-sacrificing in that the lovers must be chaste and celibate and never even contemplate pleasuring each other in a sexual way.  The love must be heroic and chivalrous, brave and focused on our eternal happiness in heaven.  Christ's way is totally chaste and with totally pure intentions.  It is not a matter of suppressing sexual feelings, it is a matter of realising there is desire but handing that desire over to God, from whom all that is good in that desire came in the first place. This is because desire can have several causes, and if we truly love someone, we will want that desire to proceed and be strengthened by the right source, God. It becomes a matter of subordinating sexual feelings to a truer, deeper love, which becomes an intoxicatingly beautiful thing to do.  Being chaste is loving in its fullest.  This applies to all relationships irrespective of their "orientation".  Chastity is a positive force for the good and nothing should get in the way of it. The more chaste you are, the more you realise that it is the only way to love (that applies within marriage too where chastity should continue but celibacy usually does not). A pure heart does not seek pleasure, no matter how appealing the thought of pleasure may be, but a pure heart is full of an unshakable happiness and profound joy.  Ultimately a pure heart seeks Love and the source of Love is God. The love of another human being can lead us to God, but only with purity of intention and the subordination of our own desires.

My guess right now is that if you asked Tom if he was religious, he'd probably say that he was in a very private way, and I'd bet my last pound on him saying that his lover was a gift from God.  I for one would not argue with this. I'd just add that we all always squander and waste what God gives us and ultimately ruin it, if we don't put love of God above our love of creatures.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I think this is quite wise. Though I'm not sure why it had to go out in a video blog. I don't judge him but will pray for him.