I have stumbled across a facebook page a few times in the past few weeks called "Jesus loves gays." I figured it might be a sign that I finally needed to get this post out of my brain. Homosexuality, and the response of the Catholic Church, has been an issue close to my heart for a very long time. Long story short, a few years ago before I got married, I had a boyfriend who broke up with me when he came out of the closet. After that experience, I spent most of my senior year of college researching and writing papers on homosexuality from both a Catholic perspective, and a psychological perspective, in an attempt to better understand what people who experience this kind of attraction go through (you heard it here first: I am a nerd). This facebook page is chock full of scripture references, memes, and articles imploring Christians to see that Jesus really does love everyone, and wants everyone to be happy and fulfilled.
In short, my heart aches for people who feel as though they have to fight to be accepted, and for people who are so desiring reform in the Church, that I felt I had to write something to vent and get my thoughts out (Yes I am aware that this blog only has two readers: you still there John??)
I wouldn't be the first person to note that most hot button issues, like same sex attraction, and contraception are rarely mentioned in the Catholic Church today, which is one of the most obvious reasons why so many Catholics are unaware of what the Church really has to say on these matters. I don't think I've ever heard mention of homosexuality in a homily, and although I'm sure there are parishes out there that deal with these issues in other ways, I have never had this experience personally.
I'm not going to get into Church teaching in this post because I don't have time at the moment, (methinks I hear a baby upstairs who woke up too early from his nap) although I will probably revisit this at some point. What I really needed to express in this moment is my hope that WE as the body of the Church can figure out a way to reach out to the people in our congregations, and outside of them, who believe that they will never be accepted, and who feel that they have to find a way to reform the Church to meet their needs.
I recently read a blogpost about how intrinsic suffering is to the Christian walk, and it really hit home. It's so messy making statements like this when speaking about an issue like homosexual attraction, because on the face of it, it sounds like I'm saying this: "I know you suffer because the Church teaches that this lifestyle is wrong. But hey...suffering is part of life. Deal with it." In truth, we are all sinners, and we are ALL called to suffer, in different ways. I guess what I really want to say is this: "I know you suffer because the Church teaches that this lifestyle is wrong. I know that I will never understand what you go through. I hope that we can figure out a way to ease your pain." I'm not arguing with the motivation of the 'Jesus loves gays' facebook page, because I do hope that this particular group of people knows how much they are loved by the Lord. My heart just hurts that's all, for people who feel so isolated from the Church that they love. The Church is compassionate, although She is firm and unwavering in her teaching on how its members who experience such attraction are called to live. The problem I see is that there are so many Catholics who have no idea what the Church has to say on the issue, and so isolate, even in their minds and hearts only, those people who are struggling to deal with these issues in their own lives.
I'm 100% positive that I didn't articulate even half of what I wanted to in this awkward, bumbling blogpost, It's just been so on my heart lately that I had to write something. I guess the biggest question on my mind is what we can do about this as a Church community?? How can we go about sharing with others what the Church has to say, without causing an even bigger rift? What can I do personally to make sure that I am sharing Christ's love with people who are starting to believe that there isn't any love to be found in a Church who doesn't seem to accept them?
(P.S. For thoughts on the matter that are expressed much more eloquently, and from a more personal perspective, I highly recommend Steve Gershom's blog.)