Christ equals Love
It was just another typical night out with a good friend. I was in my early twenties and life back then seemed so carefree. We had finished getting something to eat and my friend was about to drop me off at home. While enjoying a great conversation, he turned to me and said in a slow, steady voice: “Miriam, I’m gay.”
My mind reflects back on this night and the conversation that followed as the issue of same-sex “marriage” is once again in the media spotlight. There seems to be a constant stream of lies that fills every article, every news story, discussing same-sex attraction and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Catholics are portrayed as hateful, bigoted people willing to victimize same-sex attracted individuals with our “archaic” doctrines and “homophobic” notions.
Listening to those in the media, you would have no choice but to conclude that the Catholic Church hates people with same-sex attraction–our eighth sacrament.
Yet, my friend and I had a beautiful conversation that night. I thanked him for trusting me enough and respecting me enough to share this part of his life with me. I told him that I loved him and I was so happy that we were friends. Since he showed such courage by being himself with me, it strengthened my desire to be myself with him. So I went on, telling him that Jesus loved him and that Jesus wanted him to be truly happy and I was concerned that engaging in a homosexual lifestyle would be denying himself a love that I believed he was designed to receive.
Does that sound hateful to you?
My friend now lives with his partner and, although he disagrees with me, this conversation solidified our over 15 year friendship–a friendship which has added so much happiness to my life.
When discussing the issue of same-sex “marriage” with friends I can’t help but find it interesting that, in my experience, it is not those with same-sex attraction who become angry or resort to demeaning insults and labels. That kind of treatment is much more likely to come from my heterosexual friends who seem to have a specific political agenda.
Many Catholics approach this topic with a bit of fear and anxiety. They do not want to be misunderstood or cause offense or hurt feelings. Often, this causes Catholics to fall silent on the issue afraid to share their views. Sadly, I think that might be exactly what some in our society are happy to see. Those whose intentions have more to do with muzzling the Catholic Church and far less to do with the ideals of equality and tolerance.
Many same-sex “marriage” militants (both homosexual and heterosexual) have skillfully managed to further divide the sheep from the shepherd driving away those who feel broken, victimized, and rejected from the very source of their absolute healing and true acceptance–Jesus Christ present in the Catholic Church. By furthering the myth that Catholics hate those with same-sex attraction simply because we may disagree about the meaning of marriage or sexuality, it keeps those with same-sex attraction isolated from us.
My friend knew I loved him and wanted the best for him because he knew me. By getting to know our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters we are able to shatter the media driven myth of Catholics as bigots who hate people with same-sex attraction. More importantly, we become one step closer to creating a true and lasting unity of friendship that comes when we are able to respect each other as persons rather than settling for a hollow respect that comes from being mere political allies.
Our brothers and sisters deserve to be shown the real Catholic Church and not left to those offering “freedom” and “diversity” with the strings of enslavement attached. We must take our cue from the examples of those who have shared their stories of same-sex attraction with us. We must not be afraid to be ourselves with our homosexual friends and family; we, too, have a message that deserves to be shared. As Catholics, we should be able to be out and proud.
Catholics believe that every person is made in the image and likeness of our Creator. We believe that every person has inherent worth and dignity, a dignity that transcends all religious bounds, a dignity natural to every person. For Catholics, same-sex attracted individuals are not “them” but “us”–our family members, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, those in our faith communities, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We welcome these individuals into our lives as we would hope to be welcomed.
Loving one another should not demand that we become imprisoned by the bars of validation, being forced to agree with every choice one makes. Our Church preaches an unconditional love based on who we are, not a confining love dependent on what we do, a Church that understands our weakness but never fails to remind us of our greatness. The Catholic Church teaches the inherent dignity and value of every human being, fighting for the least and littlest among us, those who have no voice, and those in danger of losing their voice. The Church comes precisely for those who feel rejected and abandoned by society.
It is within the Church that we find our home.
I wasn’t really interested in the issue of same-sex “marriage” until some in the public, and many in the media, attempted to force me to agree with their redefinition of marriage, which has huge legal and societal implications, and then went on to frame this redefinition as a human rights or equal rights issue claiming that those who do not want to see marriage redefined are somehow “gay-hating bigots”. Since I have homosexual friends whom I love dearly, but do not want a new legal definition of marriage, I became very interested.
There are those in our culture preaching a kind of tolerance embodied only by the legal sanction and embrace of an “alternative lifestyle.” But, the state doesn’t exist to sanction the feelings of love between two consenting adults. The state exists to further the common good and promote a stable society which means promoting stable families in which children can flourish. By every measure of human flourishing, children do better in a family that includes a mother and a father. My husband will make the best of fathers. But two of him would not make up for the loss of just one loving mother in a child’s life.
Some people are advocating an “equality” that can only happen if the definition of marriage is changed to a union of two people regardless of gender, thereby making gender completely irrelevant. But, I think my gender is very relevant. We were created male and female for a reason. We have a certain physical, sexual and emotional complementarity and in this complementarity it is obvious that we were made for each other.
If one is advocating for the redefinition and understanding of marriage, one should have compelling reasons. I didn’t dream of marrying Matthew so I could, at long last, file jointly on my tax returns or finally be able to get those coveted social security survivor benefits I had been longing to receive. In my opinion, these are not compelling reasons. I married Matthew because I wanted to become one with him, to share in the emotional, physical, and spiritual complementarity for which we were designed.
Redefining marriage is about a relationship being sanctioned and recognized by the state. This goes well beyond the mere legal right to enter into contracts or couple with the person one chooses. I know many same-sex couples have the ability to be very loving and caring towards each other and show much affection. But I also think that God designed all of us for a greater love, a love that enables us to be a total self gift to each other. I don’t think that view makes me a bigot, or someone who hates homosexual people or wants to deny same-sex attracted people their human rights and I hope you can see that, too.
Although same-sex attracted individuals are constantly lead to believe that the Church doesn’t want them, the truth is, the Catholic Church will never stop wanting them.
Jesus would have died for you even if you were the only person on earth. He loves you. He longs for you. He calls you by name. He has designed a beautiful vision of love for your life.
This is a truth we should be eager to share.
In this great country in which we live, where a great emphasis is placed on the notion of tolerance and the celebration of diversity, one would think these ideals would also extend to me, someone who would simply like to share this beautiful vision of life and love with my friends and those in my community, someone who would like to feel comfortable coming out–Catholic.