Author speaks on chastity

CHARLESTON — David Morrison, former gay activist and author of “Beyond Gay,” an autobiographical aid for those living with same-sex attraction, spoke to students at the College of Charleston Feb. 26 in a lecture sponsored by the Catholic Student Association.

“We decided to invite David to speak in response to the large community here on campus in support of this lifestyle,” said Chris Collins, president of the CSA. “We want to encourage Christian groups to embrace the truth by offering a witness where often there is not one.”

And who better to offer insight into this controversial issue than Morrison, 41, a convert of 12 years who began his struggle with same-sex attraction as a young teenage boy — a struggle that, despite current opinion, Morrison does not see as a genetic disorder.

“I was having these feelings, but as a child growing up in the mid-’70s I was taught to keep all of that to myself,” said Morrison. “Nobody develops SSA in exactly the same way. Broad themes run throughout each case, but even these can’t be definitive.”

“People from all walks of life need to know that they can follow Christ,” he said. “The church teaches that everyone can and should be saints; that is the bottom line.”

Morrison teaches that not only is homosexual activity morally wrong, it is also very destructive because it ultimately leads a person away from God and human good — a plight which led him to a small Episcopal church in Virginia over 12 years ago.

“I attended services anonymously for six weeks,” he said. “I eventually went to the rector and told him of my life as an activist and of my recent conversion to Christ. He courteously listened and said ‘David, if you need me to affirm what you do in bed, I cannot, because I think that is sin, but anyone who welcomes Christ is welcome here.’ ”

It was this initial acceptance into a church that represented a “turning point in my early Christian life,” according to Morrison.

“I half expected him to throw me out on my ear,” he said, “but his reaction was exactly the opposite.”

His newfound church family provided Morrison with the courage to take the biggest step in his road to Christ when he severed the physical relationship with his partner of seven years.

“That was probably the scariest thing I have ever done,” said Morrison. “I knew that I had to take that step. For the first time in my life I understood what love is. I wanted what was best for him. Since then he has converted as well.”

Thanks to the guidance of Morrison’s spiritual leader, he is now leading a chaste life.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a spiritual leader, “ he said. “I know that this person knows me and my story. Every time I go to him I don’t have to reinvent the wheel by starting all over from the beginning. He knows my struggles and is there to help.”

“People who are struggling with disordered sexual appetites won’t be cured overnight,” said Morrison. “I am seeing myself as a new creation, but it has been more akin to a caterpillar and a butterfly. Daily I am seeing steady growth in my life.”

This is the message that Morrison hopes to relay to anyone to whom he ministers through his book or lectures.

“I tell people that it doesn’t matter what you have done or even what you are thinking about doing,” he said. “What matters is where you are right now. Christ invites each and every one of us to come to him now — that is all that matters. You must come to him; he won’t force himself on you.”

Morrison is also founder and moderator of Courage Online, an Internet support group for men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction.

 “People just sign on with their e-mail accounts; they can encourage and pray for one another,” he said. “I get e-mails from people all the time.”

He said that the biggest help for people struggling with same-sex attraction lies in the hand of the church.

“The church needs to start talking with us more. It is a matter of discipleship,” he said. “The church also could better articulate a vision for single people. As a single man I am a godparent, and this has been a tremendous gift to me and to the parents of my goddaughter.”

Collins described Morrison as a humble man and that “the love of Christ is shining through him.”

“He has truly embraced the way Christ can use him,” Collins said. “He is making it clear to everyone that there is another way in the struggle with same-sex attraction. But his words can apply to anyone dealing with issues of the body, soul, and sexuality.”