The patient told me about her pain and that she figured out what started it all: holding the phone with her head for hours while working around the house. At that time, a new relationship was beginning for her, and she would spend a lot of time on the phone. After a few more minutes of history, I asked her conversationally about that relationship.
She told me it was great! They were finding so much in common and it was a great source of enrichment and joy for her. I could see that it lit up her face. Then, between sentences about how the relationship was flourishing she said, "now, I won't lie to you, it's not a man--it's another woman, and..."
I stopped hearing her for a few words, feeling as though I had been struck. Everything was so normal until that sentence. Now what do I do? Instantly I began to determine how I should receive this news: it is clear that this relationship is more than friendship and I know that homosexual acts are naturally disordered and spiritually harmful. But I am not this woman's doctor and am, in fact, a stranger and a medical student visiting the office for education. But will I give scandal if I calmly smile and nod? I am wearing a crucifix and am therefore a representative of Christ for this woman, who is surely observant enough to notice my necklace.
The patient was concluding, saying that she felt valued in her relationship. I decide to say true things but withhold the truth that is inappropriate to provide. "I am so glad that someone can make you feel the dignity you have as a person, can appreciate your worth," I said.
Her response was almost as shocking to me as the original admission. She was delighted! She said, "that's exactly it," and that I completely understood. She went on about her partner while I went off into thought. Untangling my thoughts later, I wondered:
- This woman only found appreciation of her transcendental value in this relationship. This is terribly sad: everyone can appreciate everyone's human dignity...we don't need intimate relationships for this (although I'm sure this love is crowned with greater intimacy).
- Is hunger for this appreciation fueling homosexual intimate relationships and the gay marriage drive?
- If there someone else made this woman appreciate her human dignity, her , would she ever want a homosexual relationship?
- This woman is missing out on a unique element of marriage: self gift as a woman, to a man. There is so much more to marriage than simple (though profound) appreciation of human dignity.