Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Church and Sexuality

I've been getting this question a lot. From ex boyfriends, from friends, from colleagues, and even from myself. I think I finally have an answer. Maybe it's not a perfect answer, but it's an answer.

The question is this: If God and the Church say homosexuality is a sin, how can you still call yourself Catholic and retain faith in a God and religion that hates you?

The answer, well, it's lengthy.

The first part of the answer is this: that question is loaded beyond compare. The Catechism declares emphatically and without question that God is love personified. Period. There is no hatred or condemnation within God. He is all love. The Church, likewise, does not promote the discrimination of anyone. We as Catholics represent the Living Church of Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father, the second person of the Trinity, and, ultimately, love personified as well. The Church's stance in regards to homosexuality is also quite clear:

1. Homosexuality as a sexual preference is not sinful;
2. Two homosexuals with deeply-held feelings for each other are not in sin;
3. The only homosexual sin is that of the sex act. Everything else is fine.

Why is this? Well, the Catholic Church is of the mind that a sin has not occurred without action, just as a corporal or spiritual work of mercy has likewise not occurred without the requisite action. (Cue the Sola Scriptura crowd jumping in about being saved by faith alone....passing this argument by and coming back to topic....) If you as a homosexual do not engage in sex with someone of the same gender, you haven't sinned! Neato!

But wait, Mr. Blogger, aren't homosexuals just as sexually-driven as everyone else?

Yes. But, how many times have "good, upstanding" Catholic men and women had sex with prophylactics (condoms!)? How many have had sex wherein the man withdrew before climax? How many have engaged in non-procreative sexual acts with each other? These are all sins. Any sexual act that does not have as its end purpose the procreation of human life is a sin. That's right pubescent boys and girls: what you're doing in that bathroom is BAD BAD NAUGHTY! But no worse than what your mom and dad did to prevent having that third child.

The thing is that the far right and radically-fundamentalist churches have latched on to two sins as their main focus: abortion and homosexuality. They have completely abandoned their mission as Christians to evangelize and witness the GLORY of the Lord, and instead seek to vilify and condemn those over which they have no power. Judgment is reserved for God alone, and he will judge us all simultaneously at the end of the age. Today is not Judgment Day. So no judging allowed!

So evangelical, fundamentalist, non-denominational (some, not all) Christians have made it their mission to enlighten the "sodomites and baby killers!" of why they're going to hell instead of reaching out to them in a spirit of love and fellowship. The end result? We have all of us fled the welcoming arms of Holy Mother Church. Why? Because we were told we weren't wanted. We were told that the God who is incapable of hate hates us. For us alone special condemnation has been reserved, and the wrath of God spares all but the homosexual. And the media jumped on the chance to portray a poor, victimized community. Now we fit the profile, and are quite angry about it.

But there, in the recesses of the mainstream, lies the largest Christian Church on the planet. There, quietly going about its charitable work instead of drawing lots of attention to itself, is not only a church, but THE Church established by Christ 2000 years ago upon the Rock of Peter (HaKaifah ben Kaifah. Fun play on words, there) which has a pretty strong argument for claiming the inherited authority of God on Earth in the Living Christ when it comes to these sorts of things.

So, I'm very comfortable in my place as a Catholic who happens to be gay. I have no issue telling this to people, and, though I find it irritating, find joy in dispelling the negative associations people have with this statement. It's not God that has made people confused and less-than-welcoming, and God should not be thought of as being represented by these people. So when people say "I have lost faith in you because of what this or that church did" it breaks my heart, because the fundamental relationship between God and man has been ignored. We are given free will to sin. Without it, we would have no salvation. These people are perfectly capable of sinning, themselves, and by passing judgment are guilty of sin. It is not for us to judge man's works. It is not for us to judge God based on the actions of certain individuals and groups. It is up to us to hold fast to the faith we know to be true and work as hard as we can to be the best we can be, while acknowledging that we have faults. Everyone sins, even us. But at the end of the day, the sum of our faith, the labors of our hearts and minds and hands, and the fervency to which we abide by the will of God through the saving grace of Christ will be weighed. And though I am no prophet, I have a feeling we won't have to share the dance floor with Westboro Baptist Church.

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