Monday, March 31, 2014

Catholic Blogger Asks Why Gays Don't Feel the Love When Some Christians Hold Forth; Frank Strong Responds

At the Dominicana blog site, Dominican brother Dominic Mary Verner asks why many gay folks often perceive the love of Christians opposing marriage equality as the opposite of love. Frank Strong responds:

Brother Verner, your love looks like hate because you refuse to see your gay brothers and sisters. And, still worse, that refusal leads you to denigrate their very real love and harm their very real families—love that most Americans can see and families that most Americans now value.

And I'd add to Frank's excellent response to Brother Dominic Mary the following: this is not love. As the article to which I've just linked reports, Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel has stirred tremendous controversy at Charlotte (North Carolina) Catholic High School after she gave a recent presentation to students which claimed--per students who heard it--that gay men become gay because of absent fathers and lack of strong masculine authority figures in their lives in formative years. She also blamed masturbation for making people gay, students maintain.

Not only students, but parents, too, are outraged at the . . . toxic tripe . . . the students claim they heard in this presentation. Can Sister Jane Dominic truly be so uninformed that she doesn't know she's peddling theories about the etiology of homosexuality long, long ago discarded by bona fide mental health professionals?

In what way does this talking down to and talking about but not talking to members of a targeted, vulnerable minority group serve the interests of what the gospels call love? In what shape, form, or fashion, can lying about a minority group you've decided to single out for special vilification be characterized as a form of love?

As alumni and students of Charlotte Catholic tell Sister Jane Dominic and Father Matthew Kauth, who invited her to speak to students, in a hard-hitting public statement (pdf file),

Using outdated or false statistics to tell children and young adults that their LGBTQ friends, family members, and colleagues are the result of their parents’ missteps is damaging. Suggesting that LGBTQ members of the very audience you were addressing owe their sexual identities to pornography and masturbation is abhorrent. Presenting these false ideas to high school students not only advocates discrimination of LGBTQ students, but also tells those individuals that they are damaged or incomplete. Consider for a moment the severe and ongoing effect this type of message has on the current LGBTQ students at Charlotte Catholic. Consider the power this message has to empower bullies of these same students.

In his seminal foundational work of liberation theology A Theology of Liberation, Father Gustavo Gutiérrez critiques those who rely on the hoary aphorism, "Love the sinner while hating the sin," to justify a "love" that prescinds from the real, embodied humanity of other human beings, allowing the Christian who claims he "loves" in this way to pat himself on the back and tell himself how wonderful he is, even as he judges and distances himself from the one he "loves." Gutiérrez points out that Christian love is always concretized. You cannot love another human being while separating her human life, with its foibles and virtues, from who she is as you embrace her with your love.

Gospel love--Christian love--is always embodied love. It is love that seeks in every way possible to see the real, breathing, living human being right in front of us--to see, to touch, to listen to, to experience, to reverence that real, breathing, living human being in front of us.

Gospel love is love that seeks in every way possible to avoid creating disembodied abstractions and then substituting those abstractions, those self-serving inventions of our own theological or political fantasies, for the real item: a real, breathing, living human being. Whom we're called to love in his or her particularities . . . .

Love is always love for some one. It is not an abstraction. It does not serve our own interests. It serves the interests of the one(s) we love--from whom we learn, for whom we empty ourselves.

I'd suggest to Brother Dominic Mary and Sister Jane Laurel that many of us who are gay don't feel the love when Christians who disrespect us speak about us but never to and with us because it's simply not there. It's not love that's being offered us in our dealings with many Christians these days.

It's something altogether different, something stonier and less like the bread we'd prefer to be break ing with our fellow Christians in loving communion.

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