Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I’ve been thinking all day about what I want to blog here, and wondering if I should because I know it will be somewhat controversial. And a new Catholic such as myself probably doesn’t have any business being controversial or trying to publicly make sense of these difficult issues. People much smarter and more well-versed in Vatican teaching could probably rip my thoughts to shreds in seconds.

But I’m going to forge ahead anyway, knowing that here in St. Blog’s parish, I’m still relatively anonymous. I’m the woman standing in the corner of the foyer/lobby/narthex/whatever-you-call-it-in-a-Catholic-church with a baby on one hip and a preschooler by the hand, whom most folks barely notice. And I kind of like it that way, so don’t go telling on me to Mark Shea or anything. Deal?

Okay, so about the Vatican statement on homosexual unions…

I know that we have some homosexual folks out there in St. Blog’s, either bloggers or commentators or just readers, and at least one of them has been hit by this like a ton of bricks. I’m sure there are people who disagree with the Vatican, and some who are downright angry about this. I know some other people have the attitude of "What did you expect?" or "Hey, the Vatican has spoken, so deal with it." And I’m not sure what to say to any of them. So I’m just going to ramble a bit.

It’s a curious thing to me that anybody should be surprised that the Church’s position on same-sex marriage would be that it’s simply not possible. I mean, that’s been the position of the Church all along, and the Bible clearly states an opposition to homosexual activity. I honestly don’t know how anyone would have come to the conclusion that homosexual unions are okay with God. And I’m not at all sheltered on the homosexual lifestyle.

Throughout my life, I’ve had friends, co-workers and neighbors who are gay. In my early twenties, I played on a softball team for which I was one of three heterosexual women – all the rest were lesbians. And we were even sponsored by a gay bar, which hosted us for a round of beer after every victory. We won a lot, so I was there a lot. For a while, I even rented a room from the team captain and her live-in lesbian lover, and they hosted lots of parties for their homosexual community, so I actually knew as many gay people as straight ones in that particular town.

At the time, I had few moral standards for myself, let alone anybody else. I didn’t see anything wrong with the homosexual lifestyle, and the word "sin" was not in my vocabulary, so I wouldn’t have passed judgement on them, one way or another. It was just how different people were, in my estimation.

Some time after that, I learned that God really is real, and I became a Christian. And I was obligated to alter my views on homosexuality, to keep them in accord with what the Bible says.

Now I hear of Catholic folks who seem to be surprised that the Vatican document said what it says. And some of them find themselves forced to choose between the Church and the life they are living.

This is no small thing. I mean, nobody is asking me to move out of my house and leave my lover (husband in my case) and enter a life of celibacy. Not being asked to do those things, I probably find it all too easy to say, "Well, it would be painful, but if this is what I am being asked to do, I must obey." To me, it would be the Church telling me to exert self-control in one particular area of my life. I would hope I would simply accept that burden, understanding that self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which must mean that God would provide the grace I need to fulfill His wishes.

On the other hand, it’s been my experience that heterosexuals and homosexuals do not define their sexuality the same way. Most heterosexuals I know look at their sexuality as just another part of who they are. Whereas every single homosexual I know looks at their sexuality as the defining statement of their existence. Right or wrong, these folks are looking at the Vatican document as saying, "You can’t be who you are."

Now, if you’re not gay, think about that for a minute. Think about how you would feel if the Vatican told you that you couldn’t be you any more. Like, maybe, change your name, your wardrobe, your occupation, your family ties, your social circles, the way you work, the way you relax, the way you do everything you do. That’s the level where some people are putting this document.

This makes it a hard teaching for the Catholic homosexual community. I imagine some will leave the Church over it, and that is a painful thing to consider. I hope we are all praying that this will not happen. But more than that, like our parish priest said on Sunday, we ought not reject our homosexual brothers and sisters -- ever. And I think we must seriously consider how we can help shoulder the burden a bit.

What I mean is, as a Christian community, we often try to help folks out who have heavy burdens. Around here, if some child has cancer, there are pancake or spaghetti feeds held to help raise money for the medical bills. If somebody is killed in a tragic accident, donations are taken to help pay the funeral expenses. If somebody is out of work, he or she can turn to Catholic Social Services for practical help. And even on a more personal level, if you hear of somebody whose marriage is in trouble, like my brother-in-law’s that I blogged about, you offer to pray. I know you do – I had a number of people e-mail me and tell me they were praying for this couple, whom they only know through my little blog, and who aren’t Catholic at all. And I've seen the requests for prayers on several other blogs answered enthusiastically, every time.

The burden Catholic homosexuals is equal to any of that. Regardless of how we heterosexuals feel, that’s how they feel, and that means you just can’t say, "Struggle? What struggle?" and leave them to work through it alone. Or at least, I don’t think we should.

So here’s the thing. I’m still a newcomer in our parish and I don’t happen to know any gay parishioners there. But I pray that if there is somebody I can encourage or help in some small way, God will feel free to use me for that purpose. And those of you out in St. Blog’s who are struggling with this issue and this document, please know that I am praying for you.

Well, then. Comments still not up (sorry), but you can write me at sparki777(at)yahoo(dot) com. I cleaned out my mailbox, so there should be room for your notes. Let me know if it’s okay to post your input here. Or not.

That’s all for now.



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