Homosexuality and Freedom
Life Night Outline
Goal of this Night
The goal for this night is to present the Church’s teaching on homosexuality in a loving and pastoral way within the context of the Theology of the Body. This Life Night will challenge teenagers to see that freedom is found in obeying God’s will, rather than working against it.
About this night
This Life Night addresses the important topic of homosexuality within the context of the Theology of the Body. It is within this context that teenagers will most effectively understand the Church’s teaching, so it is recommended you do not use this Life Night outside of the Theology of the Body curriculum (please see Pastoral Note).
The Life Night begins with a small group activity that challenges teenagers to come up with a definition of “freedom.” This sets up a large group discussion that will challenge teenagers to question how they understand freedom as the ability to do whatever they wish, rather than what is right. The teaching uses the responses that the teenagers give to open up a discussion about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. There are two options for the Break: The first is to have a panel discussion with various members of your parish community. This panel can field questions about sexuality in general from the teens. The second option is to have a large group discussion with the teenagers about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and respond to any questions or concerns the teenagers may have. The Send for the Life Night is a prayer around the altar for an increased understanding of the sanctity of marriage in our world, especially among married couples.
This topic is extremely sensitive and is often approached in a non-pastoral way. This Life Night requires a great deal of advanced preparation, prayer, and research. It should not be done outside of the context of the prior four Life Nights in this curriculum (Life, Death, Hunger, Love). The teaching for this Life Night builds on these concepts, and if the prior four Life Nights have not been implemented, there will be too much material to cover.
It is also extremely important to be sensitive to teenagers’ experiences with other teens that are attracted to members of the same gender, or teens that may experience same-sex attraction themselves. This Life Night can evoke a wide range of emotions, so it is important that Christ’s love for all people is repeatedly affirmed along with the Church’s love for all people — and that this love includes calling people toward holiness. Teenagers should not leave the Life Night feeling condemned. The Core Team should be prepared with prayer prior to this Life Night, and be ready to field any questions or responses from the teenagers.
One of these responses may be teens “coming out” to Core Members. It is important to have an action plan on how to handle this situation prior to the Life Night so Core Members are prepared for this scenario. Take time to talk with Core Members about how to respond pastorally with the truth of the Church to a teenager “coming out.” The response should include
- Listening to the teen
- Responding with compassion and charity
- Encouraging the teen to reflect on how God is calling him or her to holiness within that same sex attraction and inviting the teen into the Truth of the Church
- Committing to talk with the teen over the coming weeks
This may look slightly different in every parish; it is important that in these discussions you remain affirming of the person, without being affirming of homosexual actions. These are challenging conversations to have, and it will help to discuss them prior to the Life Night so Core Members are prepared to respond in a positive manner.
This week at Life Night we discussed a very challenging topic — homosexuality. Part of the Church’s mission is to teach on anything that impacts our lives and our holiness. Many times these teachings are easy to understand, such as service to the poor or social justice. Sometimes, though, those teachings are more difficult to understand. For many people, the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and sexuality in general, is challenging. Seeking to understand the Church’s teaching on sexuality can help us see that these teachings are not restricting but, they are liberating. This week we discussed homosexuality within the context of creation, God’s plan for our sexuality, and Christ’s love for us. The teenagers had an opportunity for a large group discussion where they could process this teaching and ask questions. For some of them, this may have been a challenging night. For this reason it is important to follow up with them to discuss the topic. If you find yourself also struggling with the Church’s teaching on this topic, it is important to ask questions and seek understanding. Oftentimes we misunderstand a Church teaching because it may have been presented to us poorly, or because we heard a sound bite that did not accurately represent the Church. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the youth ministry office or the parish.
Note for Youth Minister: There is a Parent Night that is designed to complement this Life Night. It is highly recommended that you implement this Parent Night at the same time as or prior to this Life Night. It will help clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings parents have, and will equip them to respond to any questions teenagers may have after this Life Night.
If you cannot have a Parent Night, it is important to send home the outline of this Life Night along with the teaching to parents prior to the Life Night itself, along with a note explaining why you are covering this topic. It is important for parents to know that their teens will be discussing the topic of homosexuality and for them to know what the Church teaches.
The environment for this Life Night should be simple. In the middle of the room have a large cross or crucifix set up. Have paper and pens available for each small group to use during the Gather activity. The Send for the Life Night takes place in the sanctuary space of your church, so be sure to reserve this in advance of the night. If it is not possible for you to use this space, have candles available to light on either side of the cross during the Send portion of the Life Night.
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