Monday, March 3, 2014

Arranging the Terms of Our Surrender and Admitting What We Don't Know About the Homosexuals: Us, Them, and the Gospel Message

Three short takes from articles published online in the past several days:

As we negotiate the terms of our surrender, we must remember this: 

So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution (emphasis added).

As we Catholics seek to understand and deal with "homosexuals," 

We must acknowledge what we do not know and what we do not understand about the contemporary situation of homosexuals (emphasis added).

To operate with an "us vs. them" mentality, you must first have one set of names for "us," and another set of names for "them."

Ross Douthat expresses what is a virtual lament now of many Christians who have premised their whole practice of the Christian faith on excluding and demeaning their fellow human beings who are gay: They expect us to surrender now!

Father John Langan wonders how we who are Catholic can reach out to them who are gay homosexuals.

Holly Welker reminds us that an "us vs. them" mentality like the one she recognizes as so strongly operative in the self-understanding of her Mormon community always establishes rhetorical terms that speak of one's own set as "us" and that other set over there as "them."

As I read Douthat and other right-wing Christian writers these days, I wonder on what basis they ever decided that they're we and I and other gay people are they. I wonder on what basis, at what point, they decided that belief/faith/morality/the gospels/church belong to them and not to me.

Not to me and to other gay believers who have continued, despite the savagery doled out by them to us, to insist that we do, in fact, belong. That we do, in fact, believe. That we are church as much as they are church. 

That we are human as they are human.

That the gospels do not belong exclusively to them. As morality does not. Or love.

As I read Father Langan and other Catholics who imagine that there must be some space in which they and I can meet--they who are Catholic and I who am a homosexual--I wonder when it became possible for any Catholic to imagine that the Catholic church and homosexual are antithetical propositions? When anyone with even a smattering of knowledge of what the church has always been about in its clerical life and in its religious communities knows full well that the Catholic church is deeply imbued with the contributions, the culture, the lives of "homosexuals" . . . .

Who happen to prefer to call ourselves nowadays, by the way, gay.

And who have always been just as much we, if we're talking about the Catholic church, as they--and so isn't it curious that Father Langan appears to think that we Catholics need to figure out how to know and understand "homosexuals"?

As a gay believer, a gay Catholic, who has continued to stick to my faith like a burr under the saddle of a restive mare, I find it very interesting that so many other Christians, so many other Catholics, seem baffled by the fact that I'm here. And still queer. After all these years.

Still praying. Still reading the gospels. Still practicing my faith, if not taking part in the official life of a church that regards me as that baffling homosexual who is impossible to know or understand--and that continues to treat me as subhuman precisely because it imagines itself and its church type (which is ipso facto heterosexual) to be the norm by which humanity and faith are to be judged.

And me to be the opposite end of the equation.

You know what else baffles me? That none of those making these dehumanizing assumptions about me, none of those employing this othering language that makes me the opposite of themselves, seem to realize that behaving in that way so powerfully, so tragically, betrays everything that the gospels are about that the real moral challenge we might need to be talking about these days is how savage homophobia makes it impossible for many people to hear the gospel message when the churches proclaim it these days.

And those "many people" increasingly include heterosexual people who are growing as sick and tired of the savagery as we who are gay have long been.

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