Here is my response to a letter that says "Homosexuality Isn't a Sin, but Homophobia Is"
I understand where they're coming from, as I had to wrestle with the same issue in my own life. As a person who had brought up within the Catholic faith, I had to figure out where the Church was on this topic, and how on earth I could ever be loved in the Catholic Church.
Here's what I found out, and I urge you to share, because this perspective gets virtually zero media exposure ... even though people seem to claim that the support "equality." Let's test that out ;)
What I Learned
I learned that in the eyes of the Catholic Church, to willfully behave in ways that are contrary to Natural Law (which refers to how we are "structurally" created, and not what "feels natural") is considered a committed sin. That is why homosexual acts (along with heterosexual acts or other acts that are closed to the possibility of babies and bonding) are considered a committed sin. That is, this reaches far beyond the matter of "gay" anything, for this is applicable to all people.
Time To Step-Up Our Language
Also, to say "homosexuality is (or is not) a sin" is a misnomer, because it doesn't separate the non-specifically chosen attractions that we experience from the actions we specifically choose to take (or not take). It's a huge distinction – like separating manslaughter (non-specific choice to kill) from first degree murder (specific choice to kill). A more lighthearted example may be to consider the difference between getting hit by a snowball (not a specific choice) versus throwing a snowball (specific choice). If I were to say "touching snow is a sin" then I would clearly be misrepresenting the situation. The same goes for when people say "homosexuality is a sin."
Enough of the Distractions: Let's Get To What Matters Most
Anyway, the real issue that the Church draws us to consider is the role of our hearts – and whether or not we are willing to open them fully to the Lord. That is, the real matter is whether or not we are willing to open our hearts to growing in the fullness of virtue, and to the prospect of dying to ourselves (and the identities that are attached to this world, that we so often embrace). The reason this is important is because it is OUR choice to accept or reject that invitation to grow in virtue and to die to ourselves in that way – for the greater glory of God. I repeat: It is our own choice. No more victim mentality, please; it's just getting old and quite frankly people are getting sick of it. The truth is already out there ... that we alone are responsible for rejecting the faith (hey, I can say this because I was there), and no longer can we hide behind the lie that "the Catholic faith rejects us." That lie has been well exposed, and people are finally starting to wake up to that.
Two Virtues of Significance
The virtues of chastity and humility need to be brought to light. Rather, they need to be exemplified, so that people will come to understand them more fully. The great thing about these virtues (and the others) is that they are for all people, regardless of whether they experience same-sex or opposite-sex attractions (whether they are gay or straight) or anywhere in between, AND whether they are married or single. Chastity does not mean "no sex" but rather it means holy sex, for to be chaste is not about behavior as much as it is a state of the heart, and it is the state of one's heart that reflects one's openness to Christ, and their ongoing openness to growing in Christian virtue.
As far as the Bible being interpreted in any which way ... the Bible, for sure, needs to be interpreted. The question is this: interpreted by who? This question seems to reveal whether people are humble enough to recognize that the Catholic Church has more wisdom than they do when it comes to interpreting Scripture. I bet that notion may even be offensive to some, but I suppose that would just emphasize the point. Regardless, if it is not interpreted properly, everything becomes a mess, as we see today. Everyone becomes their own pope, so to speak.
Anyway, I found their letter to be from the heart .. and I appreciate that. I think that is very powerful. But I'm also a bit tired of the homosexuality topic being directed towards anything but the invitation to virtue.
For any Catholic or Christian to attempt to address this topic outside of the realm of virtue, reflects quite simply a very incomplete approach; an approach that is, in effect, incapable of reflecting the Catholic position to begin with. For that reason, I direct this letter to be about exactly that – the invitation to virtue – which includes the invitation to die to ourselves and our embraced earthly identities, for the sake of honoring God above ourselves in all areas of our lives.
See, it's not that the Catholic Church is unsupportive of "gay people" but rather that the Catholic Church is unsupportive of anyone self-identifying and or defining ourselves first and foremost according to the sexual attractions and or inclinations they may experience.
Why? Because doing so draws us and others to anchor their self-concept in themselves (the finite human creation) as opposed to first and foremost in God (the infinite Creator). In saying that, I have also come to find that the Church wants me to be honest with myself about the attractions I experience and the journey I have taken thus far, and does not impose shame onto me for experiencing those attractions – because the Church knows I didn't specifically choose them!
When I found this out, it was like 1000lbs lifted off my heart! :) How many other people might need to know this beautiful truth! Perhaps you can be the person they hear it from!!! :)
Anyway, since then, I've come to find peace in the Catholic Church, knowing fully that it is not singling me out in any fashion, for the Church offers me (and you) the invitation to walk through those doors and become a new creation in Christ, while still not "forcing" us to be dishonest with ourselves about what we experience, or the lives we have lived! That is, the Church receives us where we are, and does not try to pretend that our pasts do not exist.
And in the Catholic Church, the arms of Jesus Christ are wide open for you and me and all others like us... and man let me tell you, He gives the best Man-Hug in the world. And I love Him!! I hope and pray others might open their hearts to come to know what I'm talkin' about!! :)
But Some Get Angry
I see people get mad at me at the mere invitation to open their hearts to the Lord. Seriously! Those who get angry at me, or the Church about that invitation seem reflect an attachment to those types of identity labels, as though it is "who they are." And while I want you to know that it is important to acknowledge where you are and what you experience, it is also important to acknowledge that through the eyes of Christ, you are much more than that... and LGBTQ (and Straight) labels could never fully and accurately describe the fullness of beauty of who you are.
You are a beautiful creation of the Lord – and whatever attractions you experience can't take away from that! But, it comes down to whether YOUR heart is fully open to HIM. And if it is, you could be the next greatest Saint of the Church!! And we need people like you in our Church!! After all, how else would the bull-headed, crusty, closed-minded people ever have their hearts softened, to come to understand us better!? They need to get to know people like us who love the Catholic Church! :) And you have an important role in this! And I hope you consider this, and open your heart to the fullness of the Catholic Church and the peace that we can experience by truly offering God our whole lives - including our identities. :)
And as much as it may make some people uncomfortable, I want you to remember that people like me, who many think should not belong in the Catholic Church, are returning to the Church in droves... and many of us are now offering our lives in defense of the very Church the world has taught us to hate. Why? Because we are falling in love with Christ and we are now experiencing amazing peace in our hearts from striving to live in virtue. We don't always succeed of course, but we strive, and God gives us the grace to persevere! And we are falling in love with Christ because of people who are first showing that love to us.
So here is the big question... How do you tell us apart from those who are trying to wave the rainbow flag inside the Church, and who are trying to instill a "Gay-Catholic" sub-culture? This is how: the openness of our hearts to growing in the fullness of virtue and the willingness to die to ourselves to the point of letting go of the identities of this world that we used to embrace (gay OR straight). The fact is, not everyone is ready to die to themselves. However, we can let that be the metric by which to determine whether someone is truly offering their lives for the sake of the Church, or not.
It Ain't About Guilt!
One thing to really emphasize is that people like me (and there are lots of us) choose to let go of our earthly identities (or at least move them to be secondary to our identity in Christ), not because we are guilted into following "rules" but rather because we love Christ, and have found love in the Catholic Church which is filled with people who are willing to walk with us towards holiness! That is, we have found love in the Catholic Church, the last place the world taught that we should look... making the Catholic Church the best secret the world has ever kept!
Praying For Hearts to be Softened
I, and others like me, are just hoping and praying that others might soften their hearts to the Church, and open their minds to learning more about people like us. If you are like me, please know, the Catholic Church loves you too!!
And all this talk about the Church being homophobic is nothing more than a media-hyped mob-mentality that is being fed to people who are not taking the time to hear what is on MY heart. If the Catholic Church is homophobic because it does not support the idea that people should self-identify (and define themselves) as gay, then the Catholic Church is also heterophobic because it does not support the idea that people should self-identify (and define themselves) as straight! And of course there are Catholic people who behave like idiots ... but they don't represent the Catholic faith, just as much as a suicide bomber shouldn't be chosen to reflect the fullness of the Islamic faith. In either case, there is simply so much more to the story!
I hope that all reasonable minds can see that, and I hope that all who truly value equality will consider sharing this letter from my heart to yours. After all, isn't it right that we should have equal opportunity to share our hearts? I suppose whether people share this or not will reflect how truly people embrace the notion of equality. I guess we will find out!
Peace in Christ – and love you all!
Andrew, a Courage Member