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How Dan’s faith journey led him to the Catholic Church

Daniel Mattson is just like you and me. He is Catholic, baptized at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Lansing. He is a passionate disciple of God, citing Scripture and calling on the Lord through prayer. He is also attracted to men, and for many, this acknowledgment of the latter means he isn’t welcome in the Church.

Dan vehemently disagrees, and is trying to change the perception of both the men and women experiencing feelings of rejection in their lives, and from those who deem same-sex attraction congregants as outsiders.

“I’ve been reticent about talking about this part of my life, but I feel called by God to speak about it, and my response to him is, ‘OK, I’ll talk about this because I think it’s good news,’” he says.

“I became Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, because I view it as freedom, where joy resides, and I want to share that with other people. I also decided to become public because I became weary of the criticism of how people perceive the Catholic Church’s teachings about homosexuality. I want to be a voice that says, ‘Wait a minute. The Church’s teaching is good news. On every level.’ It’s motivated by God’s love for us.”

After growing up Protestant, Dan turned to Catholicism because of its philosophy, finding salvation in the Church instead of condemnation.

“I think, unfortunately, the majority of the gay community reaches the conclusion that there is no place for them in the Church or that ‘The Church hates me,’ but I would argue there is a place for us, and it’s a place where the Church teaches us who we truly are and what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God,” Dan says.

Dan’s opinions on the matter are well sought out. He has been interviewed by the radio show Catholic Answers, offered his editorial in First Things and is routinely asked to give lectures and speak to groups, ranging from high school students to adults.

“There is a great need in the Church to speak more frankly about homosexuality, to not be afraid to talk about it.

“I know in the Protestant church I grew up in, it wasn’t talked about at the pulpit. I sat there in junior high and high school thinking, ‘I don’t know what to do with this in my life. What does the church think?’ I cared about my faith, and I just didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody.

“If there is a kid like me, in 2013, and they come to the awareness that they are attracted to people of the same sex, the first person they’re going to talk to is not a priest, but someone in an online forum who is going to tell them how awful the Church is, how the Church hates gay people, and that’s not what we want.”

Advocating on behalf of the Church is not always well received by others in the same-sex attraction community who have their own intense opinions on the matter, but Dan feels there is great hope and acceptance emerging out of the Catholic Church today. He wants those men and women questioning where they fit in to see that the doors are open and Jesus has extended his arms in ready embrace. 

Like opposite-attraction Christians, there is some self-sacrifice required, and it is through living with unfulfilled desires that Dan has grown to know and to love God the way God intends for all of us to experience an intimate relationship with him.

“I like to think about my father who grew up without a dad, and he suffered through that experience, and I am convinced that was redeemed in my father’s life ultimately for the good of my father, and that suffering he experienced pointed him towards Christ as his ultimate source of happiness and fulfillment,” Dan says.

In the same manner, Dan embraces the belief that through the manifestation of his homosexuality, he has drawn closer to God and Jesus Christ, and he is trying to convey to same-sex-attraction Christians the opportunity to forge an equally strong relationship with God and the Church.

“I feel like part of my vocation is to propose [that] the Church’s ideals are not onerous, but are actually providing freedom to the individual, and some people will accept that and some people won’t,” he says.

Dan knows that many same-sex-attraction individuals take issue with the Church’s call to chastity, feeling that to deny oneself the comforts a heterosexual couple engages in spits in the face of the rights homosexuals are trying to achieve politically, but to them, he notes that it is God’s love above all that we are intending to seek.

“The problem with love is in today’s society we define it as, ‘You love me if you treat me the way I feel you should. If it reflects the definition of love in my mind,’” Dan relays.

“I reference something from Pope John Paul II where he talks about the Church freeing us from being prisoners to our current culture. We live in this current culture, but the Church says we do not need to be held captive by that culture in terms of who you are.”

Whether we’re homosexual or heterosexual, we are bombarded by societal pressures, and we are more similar than different, redeemed through God’s love, a missive Dan will continue to preach.

“I don’t want to convey the idea that I am a bastion of heroic virtue,” he says. “I like to say that I’m a private in the trenches, not the general that has it all figured out.

“God knows what’s best for who we are. I needed same-sex attraction in my life to make me aware of that. He allowed it for my good.”

By Michael Spath | Photography by Tom Gennara


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has “put on Christ,” the model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity. (2348)