Sunday, June 28, 2015

Happy Sunday!

Today I sat with my children and said this:

At church today, you will hear things that will feel upsetting and wrong. You'll want to respond in kind. I'm asking you to think about these things:
1. With the Supreme Court legalization of gay marriage, there are many good, wonderful people who feel vulnerable and afraid.
2. Those feelings, whether or not you agree with them, are valid, and often motivate those people to say unkind, defensive, or inflammatory things.
3. Your job is to be kind. It's okay to say if you agree or disagree, but always be kind.

This led to a conversation that was good, but also brought up several points that I am sharing here.

The first is that I keep hearing from people of my faith that Armageddon is coming and this is the first step. It makes me wonder why they feel the need to state that. If you read the Bible and believe it, Armageddon has been on its way for more than a century. Nothing has changed. Gay marriage, I do not believe, is a catalyst of that. I believe it will come about because of true wickedness, the root of which will be because people become unforgiving, hateful, and selfish. Weak arguments have been posed to me indicating that gay marriage is the embodiment of those things. I disagree.

The second point was that fear is an indication of lack of faith. If one truly believes that we were sent here by God to learn and to grow, and that He maintains a hand in our lives, AND that he is ultimately omnipotent, then one must concede that He's aware of what's going on. His plan, whatever that may be, will not be thwarted by any decisions made by a tiny Supreme Court in one country on His Earth, and who are we to say that that Supreme Court decision was not a part of God's ultimate plan. We don't know. And while our church has deeply held beliefs about marriage and family, if God is, indeed, omnipotent, it seems a good idea to throw our lot in with Him and allow Him to determine the rights and wrongs of the issue. Also, to allow His voice to be heard and not ours. We are not God's mouthpiece. We are his children.

The third point is that we've not been asked to be strident or ugly but instead, to love one another. People keep forgetting that. Or they remember with reservations or conditions. So I will simply conclude this post with the words of a brother I have never met, but love and respect deeply because he speaks as my heart would:

No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics [or Mormons] as homosexuality. Even after over 25 years as a Jesuit, the level of hatred around homosexuality is nearly unbelievable to me, especially when I think of all of the wonderful LGBT friends I have.

The Catholic [or Mormon] church must do a much better job of teaching what the Catechism [or Church leaders] says: that we should treat our LGBT brothers and sisters with "respect, sensitivity and compassion." But God wants more. God wants us to love. And not a twisted, crabbed, narrow tolerance, which often comes in the guise of condemnations, instructions and admonitions that try to masquerade as love, but actual love.

Love means: getting to know LGBT men and women, spending time with them, listening to them, being challenged by them, hoping the best for them, and wanting them to be a part of your lives, every bit as much as straight friends are part of your lives.

Love first. Everything else later. In fact, everything else is meaningless without love.
                         ---Fr. James Martin, SJ

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