Wow, they did it again! Not only that, they did some other things as well.
A recent poll showed that Americans are increasingly becoming non-denominational and perhaps even secular in their world views. That same study showed that much of the exodus from “mainline Christianity” is a result of the political positions and threats of the Conservative Christian Right. That all started with the phrase “The Moral Majority.” President Reagan soon capitalized on that phrase and so it began. That movement, largely led by conservative evangelicals, found strange bedfellows with the Roman Church. Even to this day there is an odd parallel.
Is there really any difference from a few wing-nut self proclaimed “Christians” with signs during Mardi Gras saying “God hates fags” and the Roman Church in a well-publicized tract saying that Gay Marriage is a sin and is a choice, and hidden in that same piece is a restatement that being homosexual (or any other version than straight) is a violation of God’s plan and a violation of what they call “Natural Law.” Is there really any difference other than grammar? At least those boobs with their signs are totally transparent, “Tell us how you really feel.”
Rome sends mixed messages with great regularity which I believe is intrinsically hurtful and misleading. The Pope invites LGBTQ+ persons into a loving relationship with the Church, “Who am I to judge?” Then the Church issues its long-standing statement on human sexuality again. They seem to trot it out every three or four years; at least, that is my impression. Hurtful, unnecessary, and totally inconsistent with the life and ministry of a Savior that they proclaim.
In response to this most recent P.R. stunt to satisfy the conservative wing of their church, a dear friend of mine who is a priest in Newfoundland Canada posted:
Whatever else you might have heard, whatever hurtful messages others might share, even if those messages come from a church, GOD LOVES YOU!
And no one can take that away from you. GOD CANNOT ‘UN-LOVE’ YOU!
That, my friends, is a truly theological and spiritual Christian response. That is what the real Savior would have told The Community. I know many devout Roman Catholics who are either allies or members of the LGBTQ+ community that are once again deeply hurt.
I suppose that one of the difficulties for so many is that they are socially, culturally, and historically Roman. Family cultures and community cultures can be powerful forces; particularly when a form of indoctrination has permeated that culture for multiple generations.
I once knew a man who attended an Episcopal Church on a regular basis. By heritage, he was Roman Catholic. He attended church on the sly. He explained that he would not be “Received” into the Episcopal Church until his Momma had died. He did not want to hurt her. That is powerful. He did, however, “come out” and finally tell her he was to become an Episcopalian and his Momma wept as she asked, “I just hope that you still believe in Jesus.”
That is powerful. The sense that any other church or denomination is somehow less than another is simply a perspective and one worth critiquing. I agree that some denominations offer a fuller expression of this Jesus person. We must also acknowledge that some institutions eventually become corrupt. Yes, even Jesus knew this when he chased money lenders and changers out of the Temple courts.
I want to be clear that my ax to grind is with what is called “The Magisterium” or the official teaching arm of the church. The clerical leadership. I studied with Jesuits and learned a lot about social justice, activism, and, yes, feminist theology. My personal Confessor was a Jesuit (Roman Catholic). I know some local Catholic pastors who are terrific and stand solidly with LGBTQ+ parishioners. Yet, the fact is that for all of the positive persons, the greater institution is flawed; some might say corrupt.
But, here is the truth–that you who happen to be LGBTQ+, regardless of your faith-culture, are beloved. Here is the truth–you are not broken nor are you disordered, nor is your nature defective in any way.
What you represent is the brilliant diversity of creation, of God, beloved by God’s Son. We know from science, true natural law, that the human species has always presented a broad diversity of sexual identity and expression. We know from science, true natural law, that sexual expressions are part of one’s birthright, not choice. If such is true, and I believe it is, then you are part of the colorful tapestry that we call humanity made in the likeness and image of God. That likeness and image is not about sexual identity, it is about our ability to give, to love, to care, to build, to create, and to cherish life.
And finally, it is good to be back sharing some space with you and, having gotten both shots, Vicki and I hope to be making the rounds very soon. We hope to see you and to be with you. Until then, may the Peace of God be with you.