This week will be more personable as I share what it is like to carry this cross from my own personal experience. Like any sin, homosexual temptation seeks to destroy virtue, and so I decided that each day I would talk a little bit about how the cross struggles against each of the cardinal and each of the theological virtues.
pru·dence /ˈpro͞odns/ an intellectual habit enabling us to see in any given juncture of human affairs what is virtuous and what is not, and how to come at the one and avoid the other.
Prudence is distinct from the other virtues, yet the other virtues are impossible to live without prudence, thus, it is prudence that is firstly attacked by any cross, and the cross of same-sex attraction is no different.
In my experience there have been two levels of struggle against prudence. The first level has been the influence of the secular culture and the second level has been the personal habitual sin which has stoked the flames of folly (the vice corresponding to prudence) in my heart. The secular culture rails against virtue in almost every sense, and homosexual behavior has been no different. When I was in high school, struggling along, having my morals and my virtues formed, I was bombarded with messages in school and in the media telling me that there is no difference in the morality between heterosexual and homosexual behavior. Even though I knew this to be false, my heart and my mind were willing to entertain those concepts because I wanted them to be true, and I fell into an intellectual habit of not being able to see what was virtuous and what was not. And in that blindness, I was unable to know how to avoid one and come to the other because it didn’t matter where I ended up.
That elimination of the virtue of prudence before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism has wreaked disaster in my life. At critical junctures I have not been able to recognize virtue from vice, particularly as an Evangelical, as I was not taught that there is a difference between mortal and venial sin. That indistinction, coupled with the idea that I could not lose my salvation, made me unable to see the moral differences between things like pornography and not looking at pornography.
Prudence has probably been one of the slower virtues to restore itself since my baptism as it has festered in concupiscence. In fact, it was only when I actually started to write this part of the series considering the virtues, that I realized just how much destruction my cross, or more accurately, my refusal to cooperate with my cross, has caused against prudence. And so even now, knowing truly what is right and wrong, knowing of mortal and venial sin, it is difficult in a moment of temptation to rely on that prudence, because I have never relied on it before, and have no intellectual habit to guide my actions. It is difficult at the large and obvious junctures of human affairs, and it is even more difficult at those small junctures, where I don’t even consider that a seemingly innocent small choice may lead to a much graver choice later on. Furthermore, the cross, particularly the past indulgence in the cross’s whispers, can leave one without any clue as to how to avoid the immoral and end at the moral.
This has been my personal experience with the cross, and I would be astounded to believe if I was the only person struggling with same-sex attraction to have experienced a severe weakening of prudence in his soul due to the inclination. But despite all that, I thank God, because I am here now, and I am in the Church, the one place where healing can begin and where prudence can be learned and strengthened. I hope that all fellow Catholics reading this take to heart the struggle that those who bear this cross have with prudence, and can help to open our eyes to new ways to avoid sin and choose the good, and help us to make it an intellectual habit.