Made for Love: Same-Sex Attractions and the Catholic Church
by Fr. Mike Schmitz
“Every human being — regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of past experiences of relationship, regardless of how he may have been treated by family members — is made for love” (p. 58). While humans have a tendency to doubt their value and worth, basing it on their origins, experiences, or perceived destinies, all people have this same calling — love. In Made for Love, Fr. Mike Schmitz addresses the topic of the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. All too often, this discussion involves a separation between those speaking/teaching and those being discussed. However, Fr. Schmitz abandons this “us versus them” mentality, focusing entirely on “only us”, who have this same anthropology and this same calling. He seeks to build an understanding that we are united as humans, not separated because of one thing or another. Made for Love is more than just a book on the Church’s teaching on same-sex attractions; it is a book on the human person and the destiny for which we were made.
In Catholic circles, we can tend to take certain ideas and concepts as given. However, as we look at the world around us, people do not often think about metaphysics, even the more basic ideas such as nature or truth. Fr. Schmitz spends the first part of the book discussing some of these foundational concepts. While some writers can sound condescending when talking about philosophy, Fr. Schmitz presents the ideas in an almost conversational manner, while still delving into the depths of these ideas. He makes the potentially difficult more accessible, including his discussion of the nature of a thing – its what-it-is-ness – and the purpose or end of a thing – its what-it-is for-ness. To understand a human, to understand human actions, we must understand what a human person is — a union of a body and a soul. “If your body is a vital aspect of who you are, then what you do with your body matters.” Our actions are not inconsequential. Unlike animals, we can choose to act one way or another. Further, we as humans can think about and seek out “the T-word” — Truth. He distinguishes between objective and subjective truths, along with seeking to move beyond mere feelings as a measure for morality.
Throughout this book, Fr. Schmitz integrates stories and interactions he has had with people with same-sex attraction. This is not an “issue” to Fr. Schmitz, this is about real people who carry this cross, who struggle with something that they would not have chosen for themselves. He has seen the difficulties of those who consider themselves gay or lesbian. This is not just a question of a faceless teaching. Fr. Schmitz sees the person; he sees the struggle. He sees the people who need love.
Fr. Mike did not just write this book for the benefit of those with same-sex attraction. This book is not simply about same-sex attraction — not “us versus them” but only us. Fr. Mike’s writing is geared toward anyone who has the desire to become fully and truly human, to become what we are meant to be. In his discussion, Fr. Mike touches on something that he has noticed in his interactions with those with same-sex attraction, that is not merely confined to that realm. We as humans have a tendency to associate our very identity with one part of ourselves, with one experience, whether that be how we are treated or even what we desire. These experiences become the lens through which we see the world — the reason for which we act one way or another. Our identity, however, must go beyond these experiences. Our identity is something much deeper and much more profound than our sexuality whether experiencing heterosexual or homosexual attractions.
Throughout the text, Fr. Mike Schmitz integrates Biblical stories and quotes from Church figures such as Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). He seeks to reveal that the Church’s teaching has always been consistent, though not always presented accurately. Fr. Schmitz clearly has an ardent desire to present the truth in love. Nowhere in the text does he compromise on the Church’s teaching, but he presents the teaching in a loving, person-centered way. Even when addressing the teaching as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 2357-2359), Fr. Mike does not equivocate — directly quoting the passages — but makes the teaching quite clear: the terms “disordered” and “grave depravity” apply to the acts and not the person. Once again, Fr. Schmitz does not just focus these phrases on those with same-sex attraction; there are many acts that would be described as “disordered” — such as fornication, pornography, adultery, just to name a few.
Made for Love is an important book for everyone to read. Fr. Mike Schmitz wrote this book so that we all can understand who we are as human persons, but also so that we can better grasp the important vocation for love to which we are all called. As the question of same-sex attraction is especially widespread today, Catholics need to understand what the Church teaches and how to work with those with same-sex attraction. Fr. Mike Schmitz perfectly addresses Church teaching, while also focusing on a truly pastoral approach that does not compromise the dignity of Church teaching or of the human person. Anyone with an earnest desire for truth and love would benefit from reading Made for Love, especially those who have any encounters with people with same-sex attraction.
Parents, teachers, and anyone in ministry would benefit from reading this book because it drives home an understanding that all people are called to and made for love. This book can help all of us to better love those with same-sex attraction and any other people we may have a hard time loving.
About the Reviewer
Ryan Burke earned his Bachelors of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He also holds a Master of Education in Secondary Education from Providence College. He currently teaches high school Theology at Austin Preparatory School in Reading, MA.