Such a simple question. My man Bernie Mac use to start every episode with it. It's a question that every Catholic in America needs to ask: Am I with Jesus' Church in what I believe about human life and marriage, or not?
Because if you're with Christ and His Catholic Church, you are going to find yourselves in direct conflict with the majority of the talking heads you see on the evening news and sitcoms. Jesus is blunt in today's Gospel, "If the
world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the
world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the
world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If
they persecuted me, they will also persecute you'" (Jn.15:18-20).
Allow me to be equally blunt. Being a Christian in our society means fighting the fights that need fighting - not with violence, but our willingness to stand up and speak the truth, to remind our society of the objective reality it use to hold to, in the face of jettisoning clear thinking and wrapping itself in the Golden Rule as justification (as our President just did).
The thing is, even though I disagree with those wanting same-sex marriage, I am not a homophobe, a bigot, or "hater." And if you'll give me a moment or two I'll explain why:
just because we human beings have the ability to do something, it
doesn't mean we should. That goes for everything from the use of nuclear
weapons, to girls kissing girls, to purchasing a Kenny G album.
Seriously, all of us agree that there are some actions human beings
shouldn't perform - murder immediately comes to mind as a universal. I
can't think of a culture that celebrates theft, treason, betrayal, or
slander either. Now I'm not trying to equate homosexual activity with
the malevolent sentiments accompanying any of those activities; I simply
want to remind you that objecting to certain behaviors is a trait
common to all of us.
I'll continue by saying that each
of us have struggles, and some much more than others, with strong
impulses and inclinations. I have had occasion to work with young people living with severe autism and other developmental disorders. I see some strong
sensory needs and some very startling attempts to have them met- tactile
input sought through slapping the teacher or oral-motor sensation
through licking fabric. The overwhelming urge is
there; the child didn't choose it, and he/she shouldn't be looked down
upon for it. At the same time however, those are behaviors not deemed
acceptable, and we look for ways to help the child meet his/her needs in
a different way. Myself, I have seen some of the people I love most
struggle with clinical depression. I've seen them not want to get out of
bed, to dread living through the next day; and yet, despite those
incredibly strong emotions they had the conviction that they had to
go on, that their lives were a gift from God and that however bleak it
appeared, they didn't have the right to end them. And thank God they
So coming at the issue of homosexuality, or any
issue for that matter, as a Christian, I begin with the conviction that
we have a Father in Heaven with loving, and specific, desires for His
children. We can recognize many of these desires by looking at the moral
norms common across the entire globe, engraved upon our hearts you
could say. There are a number of moral issues however, where God's will
seems murky to us - and many of these seem to cluster around how we
express ourselves sexually. I don't think we should be surprised by this
- the intensely physical and emotional nature of the act is intoxicating; it's very easy to become confused, to begin following our own impulses and inclinations instead of God's, or that should be obvious to us from biology (male and female bodies fit together in a specific way and, biologically speaking, for a very specific purpose).
This is one of the reasons we Christians believe God spoke to the world through the prophets of Israel, even going so far as to become one of us.
He came to cut through the confusion that arises from our impulses and
inclinations, whatever their root - genetic, environmental,
psychological, social, etc. - and make clear His intentions for us. He
spoke with compassion for our condition, compassion for our struggles;
but He did not mitigate the Truth. Part of that truth is that sexual union is meant to be male and female; it's written into our very anatomy. Those struggling with same-sex attraction are not
helped when we Christians adopt an attitude of, "It's not right for me,
but who am I to say for you?" In the midst of depression my loved ones
wouldn't have been helped by my saying "Intentionally ending my life
isn't right for me, but who am I to say for you?" No, their lives were
preserved because of a truth, a conviction, that transcended their
psychological bent (and genetic predisposition to depression, in many
When Jesus told His disciples to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt.7:12), and "Judge not, lest
you be judged" (Matthew 7:1), He wasn't telling them to withhold
judgment as to whether a behavior was right or wrong in God's
eyes. That ignores the entire rest of the Sermon on the Mount (three
chapters in length); that type of interpretation is a complete betrayal
of the context. Jesus' very next words were, "For with the judgment you
pronounce you will be judged...You hypocrite, first take the log out of
your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye"
(Matt.7:2-5). In other words, if you want to see our Father's will
spread through this earth, you have to begin by letting His Truth
transform you; only then can you bring it to your brothers and sisters
out of a desire for their well-being, instead of from some false sense
of moral superiority. Speaking the Truth in love is authentically living the Golden Rule!
And what is this Truth that we
Christians should bring to our brothers and sisters struggling with
same-sex attraction? We find it in those first pages of Genesis, in the creation stories God delivered to the world through Israel:
God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." So God
created man in his own image...male and female He created them, and God
said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen.1:26-28).
a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and
they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and
were not ashamed (Gen.2:24-25).
The one God (Who
is a plurality of Father, Son, and Spirit) created the sexual union of
man and woman - a oneness that brings forth a new, third life - to
mirror His own inner Life! Human sexual love reflects the Trinity; it is
an integral part of the claim that humanity is in God's image! And this
inner life of God consists in a love that is freely given, eternally
faithful, and overflows with Life. As it is in Heaven, so should it be
on earth; that is God's intention for us. So if you're a Christian
walking around with the idea that "sex is dirty," drop it. That wasn't
the teaching of the Old Testament, of Jesus, or His Church. If you got
that idea from a minister or a devout family member, you've been misled.
homosexual acts do not have a place in God's plan. The male and female
complementarity is completely absent, as is the possibility for new
life, a child, to emerge from the union. God's plan has been written
into our biological makeup; reproduction is possible only through the
union of male and female gametes.
If one wants to come at the matter from an evolutionary standpoint, I think one has to recognize that homosexual sex is aberrant.
Natural selection favors those traits which aid an organism to survive
and pass those traits onto offspring. In nature's book sex is solely
about reproduction; impulses and urges are simply a means to an end.
Homosexual sex has quite an enemy in natural selection!
acts are in conflict then with God's intention for us, both as
reflected in biology and special revelation (through Judaism and
Christianity). Up until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association
recognized homosexual attraction as a disorder. Our brothers and sisters
struggling with same-sex attraction, no matter its origin (whether it
be genetic, environmental, etc.), are experiencing a struggle that the
majority of us do not. The 1994, Catechism of the Catholic Church expressed it well:
do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a
trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if
they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the
difficulties they may encounter
in their condition.
brothers and sisters need Truth, not platitudes like "I'm
o.k., and you're o.k." No, we are all members of a fallen race. I need
God's grace, and His people's help and encouragement, to keep moving
forward under my own crosses, and people facing same-sex attraction need
those same supports to move forward in life despite the sexual impulses
and temptations they face. For our culture, and especially the
Christians within it, to say otherwise is a betrayal of our call to
speak the truth in love.
So my Catholic American friends, "Who you with?" Jesus, or the popular culture you're surrounded by? Think carefully. One is eternal and the other will fall like every other great culture that came before.