Karee Santos, a frequent contributor to the National Catholic Register, reviewed the book which portrays a love affair between two men, Paul and Max, calling it "real, raw and tragic."
Published by Full Quiver Publishing, a small Canadian publisher dedicated to promoting St. John Paul's Theology of the Body through the medium of fiction, the book is the latest effort by faithful Catholics to reach out to the homosexual community.
The story revolves around Paul, an art gallery director who is homosexual and tired of all the "one-night stands" inherent in the gay lifestyle. Max is the husband of an employee of the gallery whose maturity, stability, and firm grasp of the values of love and marriage is attractive to Paul.
The two become romantically involved, a relationship that Hunt depicts as "tasteful rather than crude", Santos describes.
"As the relationship between Paul and Max progresses, the affair erodes the qualities in Max that had made him appealing in the first place. Max’s views on love, parenthood, and society descend into a torturous confusion that even Paul cannot abide. 'Falling in love with a man does not justify re-writing all of history,' Paul argues. But for Max, it does," Santos writes.
Hunt's treatment of the subject is insightful and aware that the homosexual community does not warm to the "love the sinner, hate the sin" concept simply because they are "conditioned to believe that what they do is synonymous with who they are," Santos explains.
Instead, The Lion's Heart acknowledges that homosexual desire feels normal to those experiencing it, and even seems to be "true love".
However, "where The Lion’s Heart sharply departs from the secular viewpoint is its message that true love requires what’s best for the beloved, and in the case of homosexual love, as dramatically depicted in the story of Paul and Max, what’s best for the beloved is to walk away."
The author skillfully shows that "true love never willingly harms the object of its affection," Santos explains. "As anyone who has been in a bad relationship knows, a sexual bond with the wrong person—regardless of gender—can cause profound psychological, emotional and spiritual damage, even if it feels like love at the time. The Lion’s Heart treads a narrow line by vividly depicting the inherently destructive nature of the characters’ homosexual relationship, while evocatively portraying their love and affection for one another. In the end, it is love that pushes them to sacrifice for the good of the other."
This is why the Church teaches that "personal fulfillment comes from mastering our desires, not giving in to them," explains Santos, a mother of six who teaches marriage prep classes with her husband in New York City, founded the online Catholic marriage support community Can We Cana? and has authored numerous articles on marriage and family.
"Chastity is demanded of all, not just the gay or unmarried. In our society, artificial contraception has perpetuated the myth of constantly available sex and disrupted the previously crystal-clear connection between marriage and the creation of the next generation of children. When the Church speaks out against the use of artificial contraception and in favor of methods that require periodic abstinence, it reminds us that marriage is more than religiously-sanctioned sexual pleasure. As human beings we are capable of intimacy that supersedes the sexual."
Santos believes The Lion's Heart is worth reading because of "its bold and audacious challenge to prevailing perceptions and misperceptions of homosexuality. With broad enough exposure, the book may succeed in changing more than a few hearts."
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