Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gay and Christian: Continuing Struggle to Find Home in Unwelcoming Churches

Poet-philosopher Wendell Berry, by way of Fred Clark at Slacktivist

If I were one of a homosexual couple — the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple — I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians. When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others.

My apologies to you, readers, for my silence here of late. I'm grateful to those of you who've sent me messages to ask how I'm doing. Truth is, I'm tired, and Berry puts his finger on the very heart of my fatigue:

▪ I'm tired--I'm sick unto death--of Christians who claim that all they're about is love, when they single out their gay brothers and sisters, focus obsessive attention on the perceived "sins" of those brothers and sisters, preach hate and foment violence against those brothers and sisters, and spend millions of dollars organizing movements to remove human rights from a targeted minority. I'm sick of the lying, self-serving, false talk of love when hate's the name of the real game these fellow Christians are playing.

▪ I'm sick of the folks who feel perfectly free to send emails to me or leave messages here informing me that I'm an incomparable sinner headed to hell because I'm gay and refuse to apologize for who I am. I spent much of last week fielding messages from yet another of these folks, a Catholic man who informed me that he had wanted to marry a divorced woman, and then had a conversion experience and realized he and she were the direst of sinners, and the teaching of the Catholic church about marriage is right. And so how dare I trouble his and others' faith by asserting my right to marry when the church is clear on that point? When I responded to his unsolicited email to me by telling him I appreciated his concern and would pray for him, since the church seems to have damaged his heart, mind, and soul, he exploded with rage, and I received one email after another from him informing me I'm arrogant, egocentric, perverse. 

▪ I'm tired of those who paint unholy behavior as holy, whose intent is to destroy the self-worth of a group of fellow human beings and claim Jesus as their warrant for doing so, when Jesus never said a word about homosexuality but preached volumes about love.

▪ I'm tired of my centrist fellow Catholics who write nice-sounding, polite, ineffectual statements about the need to love their gay brothers and sisters, but who ultimately do nothing to challenge the hate. Who remain comfortably ensconced within a church whose hierarchy spends millions of dollars each year right now to organize political opposition to the rights of those who are gay. Who sit through endless homilies about abortion and same-sex marriage as if there is nothing else in the gospels or catechism to deserve any attention at all A.D. 2013.

▪ I'm tired of my centrist fellow Catholics who hold conversations at their blog sites about whether or not Catholic parishes welcome those who are gay, and who seem totally unabashed to hold those conversations when they have done nothing at all to invite gay voices into these conversations. Who have, to the contrary, done everything possible to run gay voices out of their conversations, so that these conversations take place solely between heterosexual (and, almost always, white and married and affluent) Catholics who are well-connected to the power structures of the Catholic church. But who never lift a finger to do anything effective to challenge the anti-gay hate practiced by our Catholic leaders.

▪ I'm tired of the grotesque argument of many of those centrist fellow Catholics who defend Catholic teaching about homosexuality that the church teaches, after all, that we're all disordered. When official Catholic teaching reserves the term "disorder" in a quite specific way for those who are gay and lesbian, and it's an outright lie to claim otherwise . . . .

I'm tired. And I'm not convinced that my blogging has made much of a dent in any of this. (I also spent last week reading carefully the redline copy of my forthcoming book, which is another reason for my recent silence here and for my fatigue, though productive work like that doesn't tear at the spirit, whereas the incessant meanness and downright cruelty of many of my fellow Christians decidedly does do that. And it's designed to do that.)

Apologies to all of you for this forthright expression of my dour spirits. When I began this blog, I made a covenant with myself to aim at absolute honesty in what I write here. And this is where I am right now, quite honestly.

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