Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How many times?

I was having a discussion yesterday about homosexuality in the church. Speaking with a Catholic I was rather surprised to be hearing what I was. What I heard was a surprisingly Protestant viewpoint on the Church and how it handles the homosexuality issue.

"We should be embracing gay people and loving them. We should accept them into our Church and allow them to be part of our community for one reason: it is not our place to judge. If a man wants to love another man we should recognize that at least he wants to love. We then should accept him because at least he wants to love and not hate."

I was speechless. I don't know if I was surprised but I definitely didn't know how to respond. I made it very clear from the beginning that we had two very different ideas about this and that I was very committed to my own way of thinking.

He continued, "They don't want to come to churches where all we do is say, 'You're going straight to hell if you don't stop being gay so come to church and let us convert you!' They don't want to be hated like that. They'll never feel welcome that way. All they are is condemned and we need to love them."

This was the point where I had to interrupt. This was the Protestant viewpoint I heard so loud and clear in this conversation. We do not hate homosexuals, nor do we say they're going to hell. We condemn homosexual relations in the same way we condemn sodomy, rape, and murder. Homosexuality in and of itself is not the sin - engaging in homosexual relations is the sin.

While I agree it is never our place to judge others, even in this Body of Christ, I do believe we have a responsibility to stand up for what we know is right and to help others achieve sainthood. If we ignore these things about them then we are turning our back not just on them as humans but on their soul and their relation to us as a member of the body of Christ. I believe it is more loving to challenge them to strive for holiness than to condone their sinfulness.

It is not necessary for us to treat them as the lepers were in biblical times but to embrace them for what they are. They are us with different struggles. Nothing separates us in what truly matters. They are children of God and they are thirsty for the Truth. Whether or not they acknowledge their thirst is something aside from the actual fact that they do.

I have known several gay men who have said to me that they would love to be a practicing Catholic, but they feel ostracized by the Church. I blame this on poor catechesis and a certain prejudice against homosexuality. Their feelings towards people of the same sex are largely unavoidable. They are not to blame for their feelings but for acting on them. It is necessary to recognize that homosexual relations support a selfish desire for pleasure. An expression of love in this manner is not one that follows natural law and is completely closed off to life which is supposed to be the center of all love making. Quite simply, life cannot naturally stem from homosexual union. This is well known. Sex is meant for life. All people who engage in this sacred activity must be open to the idea of new life being created out of their love. Therefore, homosexuals, when engaging in sexual activity with their partners, are going against natural law and the will of God.

Loving them and condoning their sexual relations are not synonymous. How many times do you tell them that what they're doing is not in line with the will of God? I couldn't tell you. All I know is that it is okay to help them understand that choosing to engage in sexual activity with a person or persons of the same sex is choosing to offend Christ and to seperate themselves from Him.

I know and respect several gay people. One of them is a very good friend of mine and I would not trade him in for anything. He has impacted my life in a very profound way. Does this mean I condone his sexual relations with his life partner? No. I pray for his soul daily and ask God to have mercy on them both. I do not hate him. In fact, I love him very much and loving him means that I do not accept (or choose to overlook) this.

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