So the Pope Says Being Gay is Cool Beans Now?
It seems that every time the Pope (current or previous) opens his mouth on a controversial issue, the media flips out and starts claiming that the Church is changing all of her “old, medieval ways of thinking” and finally “coming into the 21st Century”. That’s not because the Church has been changing any of her doctrines, but because the media doesn’t properly understand what the Church teaches to begin with.
As you’ve probably all heard plastered over the news, Pope Francis was answering questions on the plane home from World Youth Day in Rio, and he said on the subject of homosexuality: “If a gay person is a person of good will who seeks God, who am I to judge?” The problem is that when the media hears this they often assume this means that the Church, whom they believe to hate homosexual people, is now turning over a new leaf.
The Church never taught that. In fact, the Catechism, (which the Pope then later referred to) says that those with homosexual tendencies “… must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358). In the very same line the Catechism also refers to homosexuality as “objectively disordered”. So which is it, Catechism? Care to get your story straight?
In an over-simplified manner, I have often heard it put this way: “hate the sin, love the sinner”. The trouble people usually have with this phrase is that we find it hard not to equate homosexual action with homosexual inclination. For those who are attracted to those of the same gender, it feels like one’s identity, and currently this notion is heavily promoted. In fact, I also recently saw an article parody the Pope’s position by stating, “It’s fine for a man to have Pope-ish feelings, as long as he does not act on them in any way” (from here). The silly thing about this kind of comparison is that being the Pope is an office, not an orientation, and is by election and choice. (I was under the impression the argument was for being ‘born that way’, not against!) So this comparison isn’t really helping the argument very much. The truth is, it is easily possible to have disordered passions, desires, and inclinations. In fact, we all do. EV.RY.BO.DY. If I have the desire to eat until I make myself sick, this is a disordered inclination. Does this mean that I am unlovable, or should not be treated with respect or fully integrated with society? No! But it doesn’t change the fact that gorging myself silly isn’t good for me.
The challenge is that when a particular desire is so incredibly strong and when you really feel like it’s something you can’t say no to, it’s much harder and even feels offensive for someone to even make the comparison I just made to overeating. It may feel like homosexual actions are tied to happiness, and so to say that one’s happiness is objectively disordered is like a slap in the face. I know I can’t relate personally to how difficult the struggle must be, and so I can only sympathize with that pain. I have gay friends who range from thoroughly embracing the whole gay lifestyle and being angry with the Church, to those who have found amazing joy through accepting the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, to those who are in the middle ground, fighting the battle and unsure about which side they will come out on. What I do know is that life is a struggle. It is a battlefield on which virtue cannot be attained without being willing to say no to some of our own most deeply-seated desires. There is no victory without a fight. And simply accepting and giving in to a passion, inclination or desire just because the feeling is very, very strong and rooted, is a road that leads to selfishness and cutting off the good of others around us. That’s something we all have to battle with in various ways. The Christian life is the life of the cross. We live out our lives on the cross and the cross is not a walk in the park, but a victory won through self-sacrifice and an emptying of self for the love of God.
As an extra note, here are some other great references and testimonies I’ve come across over the years for those who are interested:
Posted on July 30, 2013, in Catholic, Homosexuality, Pope and tagged Catechism, church, francis, gay, homosexulity, lobby, okay, plane, pope, rio, teaching, world youth day, wyd. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.