Chris Crocker on Christianity

Yes I maintain my Christianity. Totally. What I see here however is the same anger I have had at times, with much the same results, even when I was both devoutly evangelical and later as a Catholic Christian…and yet gay. LGBT. Celibate but not changed inside. When a person thus feels totally left out of both groups, Christian and LGBT, for attempting to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, sometimes we become angry. And sometimes the anger is misplaced. I am glad Chris clarified it was not God he was angry at. For me sometimes it has been. Truth be told Chris has a point–a shocking one, but there are times when shock is the only weapon we have, or feel we have. I appreciate his feelings, those of a frustrated and hurt 20 year old man who has been injured by the people of God. But that is the rub–it is the people, not the Church, not even the Bible rightly read, that do the injuring. And that is the bigger shock than any picture. I stand with him.

Anemic Royalty

cc.pngChris Crocker “makes his bed” out of the Bible

You’ll get no debate out of me when it come to free speech, First Amendment rights, and all that jazz, but there really ought to be a law prohibiting “B” stars, wannabes, or anybody for that matter, in using religion as a prop to advance a fizzling acting career. It’s just…tired! Chris is a bright guy, and I expect more from entertainers than another reverse hate speech on Christianity and sexual orientation. Chris’s latest diatribe follows:

“EVERYBODY IS UP TO SOMETHING, heY!”

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Happy New Year!

~ X anemi

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A Good Man’s Happy Death

3 years ago, today, my father, Donald Leroy Evans, journeyed into eternity. I wrote elsewhere recently about my own experience with him, bridging chasms we once had, due in large part to my journey through LGBT struggles as a man who is gay and the closeness we later shared in the last number of years since my return to the Catholic Church. Though my journey now reaches beyond that into the greater church, I think what is shared here still applies, whatever one’s faith path may be. It was originally written just after his death and had been kindly published in Catholic Stand. But it is the story of a man and his amazing courage and strength at that last turn in the earthly journey.

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This piece however is about another aspect of my dad and his last few months on this earth. We each pray for a “happy death,” not meaning pain free or with no struggles, but with the Lord Jesus Christ as the absolute center of that holy time which we all one day will face. St Joseph had such a death and passed on with both the Lord Jesus and Mary at his side. That is what a “happy death” consists of—no more, no less. This is the story of another beautiful entrance into the next world, and one I was extremely privileged to play some small part in.
My dad had beaten the odds several times over the years, having had a quadruple bypass while in his 60s and not long after his retirement. He had quit a heavy smoking habit around 20 years earlier, and, had he not done so, the doctors were convinced he would never have lived long enough to have such a procedure otherwise.
Not long after, my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, leaving us due to that insidious cancer at age 69, just months short of their 50th wedding anniversary. My dad, while not the most domesticated of creatures, took care of her as best he could, and heroically keeping her at home as she had wished until the very end.
Two years later, he met a lovely woman by the name of Betty Yates. He took full advantage of this second chance for a happy retirement, and they were married in 1997 when he was 75! He had converted to Catholicism at age 18 when he married my mother, and Betty was a divorced Lutheran. It would have been very easy to just marry in her faith community, but he chose to go through a proper and careful process of annulment so that he could marry in the Church.
They spent the remainder of his earthly life together, and during that time he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, had two mild heart attacks, and only through much argument with the heart specialists was he able to have three stents put into his already damaged arteries, again saving his life for several more years. He also developed pneumonia several times, and kidney disease began to take its toll on him. Finally, on Thanksgiving night of 2014, the family was called and was told that he was in the hospital with what appeared to be end stage kidney disease. He was 92 by this time, and the option of dialysis did not make sense for his already battered body. He was placed into hospice, and moved into the care center of the assisted living/nursing home facility where he and Betty by then were living. She could still see him every day, and he could get the additional care and help that only hospice can provide. But we all knew that the end was near. Or so we thought at least.
I should add that he had one other love—the casino—and spent at least two-three days a week honing his blackjack skills and making friends, something he did easily all his life. Hospice was not going to stop him from this either. He managed, even while on O2, to get there three more times to see his card playing comrades and to return each time with more money than he had come with! Those skills literally paid off until the very end for this amazing man.
In reading the above, one might not have completely guessed that Christ and the Faith were front and center for him. Not much could be further from the truth though. When he and Betty married, the both began attending each other’s churches; each Saturday evening worshipping at Catholic Mass together, while visiting her Lutheran service every Sunday. To this moment I am sure there are many from both communities who thought that they both were members of each other’s church, and their picture together graced both parish directories. While different on some key beliefs, they truly were one in spirit.
After I returned to the Church, my step-sister, a former co-worker of my dad’s who had introduced them, decided to become Catholic. My dad, at age 85, became her RCIA/confirmation sponsor as she was received into the Church two years after I had come back. He obviously took his faith seriously, and it showed.
It was in the last four months of his life, with his kidneys working at just five percent, that he blossomed most though. He knew he was not long for this earth, and decided to have his memorial service (aka party!) while yet alive. We had food, festivity, laughter, and tears, and it was on that day just before Christmas of 2014 that I saw for the first time how really ready he was. He loved this earth, and the people here. That was clear until the very day he died. But he had begun to detach as well, not from people but from other things that had once mattered so much to him. We took turns sharing meaningful moments together, and he cried freely and laughed just as much as we did. He was still dad, always cheerful and a bit mischievous, but that day it seemed he was also surrounded by angels, and his trodden face looked like one as well. God was clearly in that place and in charge.
He did better than expected for the next few months, scooting around and never missing a card game—or a Mass. Then, once again, pneumonia came, and he made the difficult choice for comfort care rather than antibiotics. It would now be only a matter of days, and once again the family gathered. Again, instead of gloom, it was a near party atmosphere at moments, and tears during others. He would sleep and awaken, and when he was ready to drift off he just said he was glad to know we were all there enjoying one another’s company. At moments he could not breathe well, and would momentarily panic, but medication and prayer brought him back each time. One time he was having trouble resting, and finally said to his wife “Betty get over here and talk to me so I can fall asleep.” We all roared including her, of course. She, like him, enjoyed life, laughter, and large doses of chatter.
The day before he died, he managed to phone every person who was not able to be there in person, and even made peace with one close family member who had some serious issues with him in the past. He had been trying for months to have her come and visit so that they could talk, but due to time and distance it was not to be. However, in a 3 minute conversation they were at harmony with each other, once for all. That was the kind of man he was. Earlier, not long after his diagnosis, he told me that he could now for the first time truthfully say he loved absolutely everyone. He was never a grudge holder, but, like all of us, had some people he was not as close to as others. Now he simply loved them and wanted them to know it.
Speaking again of detachment, he had always loved sports. A lot. When we were growing up, he would often pull the TV into the dining room during dinner and it was nearly impossible to talk at the table as a result. A couple of months before he died, I recall phoning him and Betty, who answered, told me that the game was on. I asked dad if he wanted me to call back later, and he said, “No, I can talk to you for a while.” A first for everything. The night before he passed away, a basketball tournament was on TV, and we offered to turn it on. He said to us, “No, I don’t want to know if MN wins or not.” What he was really saying, I think, was that it no longer mattered to him, and that his family who was gathering to see him off was all that did. For him, that was a very real and final detach from this earthly life.
One other thing he asked me for during this time was a blessing from Pope Francis. I had been able to obtain one from then-Pope Benedict XVI for his 90th birthday, and he was extremely proud to have that blessing displayed in his room. However, those generally take months to obtain through the Diocese, and I had no idea how I could ever honor his request this time. But I prayed, and I suddenly remembered that I had a seminarian friend from Facebook who was and is currently studying in Rome. I sent him a quick message, and he was able to get not one but two of his fellow seminarians to attend a public audience with the Pope for me. People who attend are told that the Pope willingly extends this blessing to any of their loved ones not present, so they each prayed for that blessing on his behalf and mine too. I then printed him an unofficial but real certificate, and he now had a blessing from Pope Francis as well, which I presented to him at his “farewell party” in December. Amazing how God works in little ways and big.
On the last day before he died, the room was filled with family and friends, and health care staff were coming in and out as well, hugging him, crying, telling him how they loved him, and we as a family were amazed at such an outpouring. His priest also came, and gave him the Anointing of the Sick as well as an Apostolic Pardon. By then he was drifting in and out some but still knew we were there, and shortly after that he fell asleep and, other than occasional moments did not wake up again, at least fully.
The next morning, the day of his home going, it was just me, 2 of my siblings, his sister and my stepmom who were there. We prayed for him together, and later both his priest and the Lutheran minister came and prayed with him as well. The care center had Rosary that day, so I attended and prayed for him with his own Rosary. One of the leaders suggested that they come and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet over him, which they did. She began to cry when she saw Betty, my Lutheran stepmom, and told her that the rosary she was using was one Betty had given to her as a gift! Powerful indeed. True ecumenism.
Just over an hour later he was gone. But as he was passing, I laid on his arm an antique rosary from Lourdes. Mary was there and readying him. And during the last few hours, he continued to talk, on and off, but not to us, saying such things as “I love you” and “I am doing pretty good.” Whatever was happening during those moments we may never know in this life. But when he took that last breath it was simply done, no pain, and no other apparent discomfort. It was the quintessential happy death. As he kept telling people, “what a way to go.” Speaking of Lourdes, his funeral, through no plan of any of us, just “happened” to be on the Catholic Feast of St Bernadette, the young visionary whose experiences at Lourdes established that particular Shrine of healing well over 100 years ago. Timing is never by accident.
Why do I share all of this today? Perhaps I want you to know this great man, just a little. More so, because I want us all to be less afraid of what is coming. I know I am. Without canonizing him, I am yet fully convinced that he was taken directly into the arms of Jesus, Mary, and St Joseph. And my mom too. That to me is a comfort beyond words or tears. It is also a challenge to live better so that one day I too may have such a death and join a holy man, Don Evans. Please join us too.

Why Easter Matters to LGBT Christians

This last year has journeyed me into a number of modified stances on both Catholicism and Christianity in general. To some that is heresy. You are welcome to that view (not by me but by our Lord Himself), and to others it is a freedom from the constraints of a system that does not allow for us to develop our own theological understandings. You are welcome too by the same Lord Jesus Christ. Happy Easter, and thanks to Justin Lee for this wonderful piece.

Gay and Christian .blog

Written by Justin Lee

Honestly, even when you know the story, it seems weird that we label as “Good Friday” the day our faith’s founder was murdered—executed as a criminal on trumped-up charges, following a period of extended torture and humiliation at the hands of his enemies. “Good” Friday? Really? Are we nuts?

But Christianity has always been about paradoxes: The last shall be first. The greatest must be the servant. The Savior of the world would be not a triumphant political leader but a carpenter with a ragtag bunch of followers.

Jesus clashed frequently with powerful religious leaders, while his best friends were outcasts and sinners. He was “King of the Jews,” but his life was anything but kingly. There was no room for him at his birth, no honor for him in his own hometown, and no dignity for him when he was executed for treason.

All of…

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“HOME WITHIN A HOME”–An LGBT Catholic’s journey to an Episcopal Parish

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I have two amazing cousins who have been together as a couple for many years, and in the last several were finally allowed to make their union as two LGBT males legal and public—I am proud to have them in my diverse family, and have written this especially for them, but the sentiments are for any out there who are wondering what my views are regarding same-sex marriage. I am for it. It is equally for those who believe I have left the traditions of my Catholic Faith by joining an extremely wonderful Episcopal parish recently—I have not. In short, I am a gay-affirming Catholic Christian who has found a home within a home. And glad I have.

Hey, my cousins and comrades 🙂 

I wanted to share something with both of you, as people I deeply love and care about and who deserve to hear this from me directly. Lately I migrated from Roman Catholic to an affirming Episcopal parish where I can live my life out more freely as an LGBTQ person. Strange to have been “out” for 15 years, then eventually drawn back into Catholicism again after many years away, and during that time endeavoring to live out the many beautiful traditions of the Faith, ultimately realizing that many of the otherwise beautiful and powerful customs there have at the same time held me back from that other side of myself which is equally a part of who I am as a gay man. I feel like I am nearing 62 and just starting over in so many ways, this certainly being one of them. But that is the case it seems.
My journey, unlike many, has always been public, whether by blogging, Facebook, or other social media, and for that very reason I wish to share this leg of that journey in an equally public way. That openness has no doubt at times confused and even exasperated others, some who think I am too conservative overall and others who no doubt think the opposite. I am never going to please everyone, and I do not here attempt to, but I believe I owe a deep apology to you personally as a result. I realize my self-conflicting views were not in the end being true to myself, and likely very unclear to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on more than one occasion. For that I am truly sorry.
For the record I have always believed in the rights of all, certainly including (though not limited to) my own LGBTQ community, but honestly felt that the redefinition of marriage was not the only way for us to have or achieve equality. I still find it messy at times due to the very real conflicts between two groups of people who are both important to me, that is to my community of Faith as a Catholic Christian and my equally important community of being part of a sexual minority who has been deeply oppressed by the other. That conflict is still very real, and will require yet much dialogue and even legal measures to protect both sides. The battle is far from over.
The bottom line however is that I can no longer quietly stand by and watch people I care about, myself included, be hurt or devastated by even well-meaning Christian people who would shove us all back into the closet or worse. In saying this I am in no way impugning my very dear Roman Catholic friends and family, who are very good people overall and who hopefully will understand my evolution as time goes on, and at very least who still care about me in any case. And thankfully that is most people I know. I mean primarily the overall institution of the Church, the hierarchy as well as others, who have hurt our community over and over with no signs of stopping anytime soon. I will no longer sit back quietly about that injustice, for that is what it is.
I am deeply sorry for any offense that my seemingly contradictory views have caused to either side, but particularly to my LGBTQ loved ones. I hope to spend the rest of my life making up for my own publicly confusing statements on the topic. And, also for the record, I am very, very glad that there is marriage equality. One day I may even meet someone yet who I can share my life with, and I want to truthfully be able to say to that person that I stand fully with my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on the matter and always have. No questions, no compromise.

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I recently came across a statement, not mine, but from a Facebook group of Anglo-Catholics who, like me, believe in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church and probably 95% of the traditions I have become graced by over the last 12 years since my return to Catholicism. While not original to me it reflects my understanding of the Faith very closely, and I currently would see myself as both Episcopal/Anglican and Catholic in my faith journey going forward—and only the richer for it.

The statement follows, and is “borrowed” from a FB group by the name of the Anglo-Catholic Resistance:
“We are a group of churchmen, clergy and laity, who, in love and zeal for God’s Church, and in charity for our neighbors, strive to bring about the increase and perpetuation of the Faith.
We affirm the historic doctrines of the English Church, as are encompassed in the Catechism and the Lambeth Quadrilateral. In particular, we affirm the truth of the three historic Creeds of the Church.
We affirm nothing less than the literal, bodily death and literal, bodily resurrection of Christ.
We hold that the Sacraments are central to the right and proper worship of Almighty God.
We believe the consecrated Bread and Cup to be the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, and therefore strive to treat the Mass with the utmost dignity and reverence according to the traditions of the Church.
We hold that no person ought to be denied admission to Holy Communion except that he or she has not been duly baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We hold, likewise, that there is no reason not to admit to Holy Orders or extend the rights of Holy Matrimony to all persons so called, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
We believe the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and continually ask her intercession and the intercession of all the faithful departed upon us and upon the Church.
We affirm head-covering by laywomen in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament to be a vocation rather than a mandate.
We hope for a revival within the Church of love for tradition in liturgy and doctrine, proper formation of both clergy and laity, and zeal for the Gospel.
Ultimately, our hope is in Christ, who died and rose again that we might one day also rise triumphant with all the Saints on the Last Day and enter into His presence where death shall be no more.”

I would only add that I see my current self as a “progressive Anglo-Catholic Christian” who has chosen freely to hang my hat and be part of  St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, MN, and am finding, at least thus far, that we meet each other’s needs phenomenally. As to the above Statement of Faith, I find that it too meets my overall needs for purposes of this blog, but in the wonderful Episcopal Church tradition I find myself a part of, reserve my right as a believer to investigate, question, and occasionally change my mind on some individual points as listed here or elsewhere. That is called freedom of conscience, and is a very Catholic idea, by the way.  In that light, below is a further explanation I recently posted on my FB page and add here as well–

I would clarify that I am not “exactly” Anglo-Catholic but my beliefs are closely aligned with many of those who are. I love and connect with the 2000 year tradition of the Church, as well as the earliest 3 Creeds (Apostle’s, Athanasian and Nicene) and see Sacred Scripture (Bible), particularly the 66 books accepted by virtually all Christians, but also the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books, as the final rule of faith and practice for believers. I also see the Bible and tradition, as well as prayerful human reason, working together to provide the 3 main ways (3 legged stool) in which God has revealed, and continues to reveal, Christianity to us. I also highly respect the leadership of the Church, beginning but not ending with Pope Francis, as “first among equals.” Finally, I believe in the freedom of an informed conscience within the individual believer, which in reality most if not all Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians each accept on one level or another. In short I am a baptized and believing member of the Church Universal. To me that is what Catholic Christianity is all about.

 

 

 

NOTORIOUS? That would be me–

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Bishop Robert Morlino

 

http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2017/10/22/bishop-morlino-on-funerals-involving-a-notorious-homosexual-union/

 

TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND OTHERS READING THIS–Yet another American bishop has gone “ISIS” on the LGBT community by now suggesting that even the names of the loved ones of a dead parishioner be stricken from the funeral notices and funeral cards and not be acknowledged, as well as even supporters of all things “gay.” Hmmm I wonder if wearing pink counts, Bishop? Just asking. For the public record I am not struggling over this. I have for years though. The struggle is done. PLEASE resist the temptation to write me publicly or privately in an effort to reform me or woo me back. I am nearing 62, in my right mind, and my decision is based upon much study, tears, thoughts, prayer and dialogue with those who both agree and disagree with my position as stated in this post.

Whatever you may think of it please know this. I will always be a Catholic Christian in my heart and am not “leaving the Church.” However I will not be worshipping within Rome going forward, at least in the foreseeable future. I simply cannot do so in good conscience. I am very aware that this will deeply upset some of you and I am sincerely sorry for that, as there are many Catholics of good will out there, many who are close to me and even on this FB page or blog. This is not about any of you, believe me. It is not even about those who may disagree vehemently with me on this or other major issues. Some of you will note I went through something similar to this in the past (around 4-6 years ago to be exact), but this time there is one major difference–I am not initiating this, nor acting or reacting from anger or hurt, although I have to admit some of both here. But that is not my main motivation. I have realized that the anger I have often confessed towards the Church and even God which I have fought with over the years is in trying to retro-fit my most deeply held convictions, which are those of justice, respect, and genuinely reaching out to others in a Christ like manner whether one agrees or not with the other, into a rigid religious system who officially states this as her position but allows bishops to make such demands as Morlino does upon their local clergy and faithful. This is in my opinion twisted and broken.

I believe this is utterly wrong and I am not able to support it, nor will I do so going forward. Truth be told I am not wanted by Rome, nor are some of the precious people I love most in this world, and I am simply accepting that unfortunate fact and moving forward to a faith community where I will be–and already am. Archbishops Paprocki, Salvatore Cordileone, Nienstedt, formerly of MN and far too many others who practice bigotry in the name of God, just to name a few. Father Donald Calloway, who has written extensively on the Divine Mercy after nearly losing his life to in-depth drug addiction and stating that he has pretty much committed “every sin there is” during his journey towards Christ, publicly stated a few years ago on his FB page that seeing two men kiss would cause him to “spiritually vomit.” His reaction towards my then-suggestion that he consider reaching out more gently to those with that particular struggle was to block me immediately from his page. So much for mercy, Divine or otherwise. That bigotedness in the name of religion is what ISIS does and why the comparison. The Church does what she often does too well here–kills her wounded. So consider me to be “notorious.” For that is what Morlino has called “my kind.”

You may think I’m wrong about LGBTQI. So, now what?

I have always deeply admired Susan Cottrell. This article is written by her husband Robert. If you do not know their story, you owe it to yourselves to read more on their page. It took the death of a gay son, one who, like them, loved Christ and His Word, to bring them to an understanding of those in such situations. As the article suggests, one does not need to fully subscribe to their understanding of theology in order to appreciate their hearts for God and others. Well worth reading. 

 

Source: You may think I’m wrong about LGBTQI. So, now what?

The LGBT community and three possible pastoral approaches as Catholics

I am a part of the LGBT community. And it is a part of me. It does not define me, and is not all I am or think about. But to suggest it is not part of me is to be intellectually and otherwise dishonest.

Having said the above, I am, first and foremost, a Catholic Christian with a commitment to seeking towards chastity and a pure heart. Some of you reading this have already challenged my reference to myself as part of this group, but I am. And so is every same-sex attracted person, whether active sexually or not, and whether they choose to identify as such with other LGBT persons.

To me that is lesson one here. In the recent book by Father James Martin, SJ, “Building a Bridge,” he suggests that we begin to eliminate from our vocabulary the term SSA (same sex attraction) and that it, among other things, can cause an unnecessary rift with those we are part of if that happens to be our orientation. At first I challenged that idea, and strongly. In further thought, however, I think he is right. The reason many of us have used SSA rather than LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) is precisely to differentiate or distance ourselves from what many call the “gay identity.” Instead I fear it is causing more confusion than it could ever be worth.  For starters how many people do you know (outside of the more traditional Catholic world that is) who even know what SSA means? Probably none. We thus are distancing from the very people we say we are attempting to reach out to.

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To be clear, SSA is not an improper term by any means, and I would not criticize any who continue to use it. But, like so much of “Christianese,” it does not clearly identify the topic at hand, which is homosexuality, without an easily distracting sidebar chat that can derail the entire conversation if we are not careful. The purpose many of us have used it in the past is to emphasize that being SSA or LGBT does not need to define us, as I suggested in the very first sentence of this essay. That is valid. But very often that same sidebar causes it to do exactly that. I have personally found it far easier to simply say I am gay or LGBT but “celibate for religious reasons.” People get that, even if they disagree, and one can then move forward in what is already most likely a very sensitive discussion overall.

The above point, however important, only lays the groundwork for the actual pastoral approaches in question though.  I would like to deal with each of them briefly and then allow both myself and the reader to digest the idea that the Church can reach out far better to the LGBT community than we have done, both collectively and individually, in the past. I would suggest three valid paths to the topic, both doctrinally and in approach.  I would mention here, in using the term “pastoral,” I am not limiting my terminology to priests or ministers. We are all “pastors” at times to those we know and love.

First is what I would call the “Courage” approach. Within the Church, and approved by the Vatican, is a vibrant ministry to those who struggle with homosexuality. I link to the Courage website here, and have suggested to more than one person, including me, to utilize their fine services.  I can say nothing against it nor is that my intent today. https://couragerc.org.

As an important aside, it is crucial to note that Courage does not reach all however. For some, the struggle is in making peace with themselves and their sexuality in order to even accept the possibility of a celibate life. For others, there is an in-between or middle path that sees ways for us to have in-depth and possibly even legal commitments which do not involve sexual activity but allow for the love which so many of us crave, and as perpetually single people in the Church do not tend to find easily. For yet others, it may involve a very honest but fundamental disagreement with Church teaching on the topic. Each of the three groups mentioned are made up of real Catholics and real humans. All deserve consideration.

In any case, Courage believes strongly in using the term SSA for the reasons I have mentioned already, among others. Having had at least some association with them over the last several years, I would observe that, while none of the three paths here are easy, this one can be very good for some and extremely painful for others. I have spoken to people who have wept after slipping from the very best intents and viewing pornography, for instance. You might say, and in many cases I would agree, that this would indeed be a good reason to weep. But…

I have also known those same people to be literally threatened with hellfire during what is already a difficult and humbling time of confession with their priest, and I do not see that as the answer most often. Imagine being a person of 21 years and having been told by the Church you love and the Christ you wish to follow that you will never, under any circumstances, be allowed to express your sexuality to any other human in this lifetime. Further imagine that one day you turn on your computer to do school or other work and quite unexpectedly you are sent a link to some, in this case, gay porn.  What would you do? If you are hormonally within the norm, you will most likely view that porn, particularly if you are in other areas already denying yourself from being sexually active. Then you go to confession and the priest tells you, in no uncertain terms, that had you died that day or night you would have gone straight to hell and burned for eternity due to that one act. It might just cause you to never enter a confessional again.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church does delineate this as an objectively serious sin, and I am not here to argue that point, more often that not you likely were not fully rejecting God but simply tripped up temporarily. For a sin to be serious or mortal, we as Catholics are taught that it must be serious, we must know it is such, and we must freely choose to do it anyway.  Most people at their hormonal heights, alone on a lonely night, denying themselves as mentioned from direct sexual contact, would not fit the last of the three listed here.  A priest who does not realize this when someone is weeping in the confessional is simply not getting it.

Back to Courage–while much hope is offered, there are more than a few within that group who live in constant fear and misery due to their lapses such as the above. And that can actually lead to a form of sexual binging and purging, which then becomes a habit and finally a total oppression within even the most sincere individuals.  Please note I am not here suggesting to bypass Courage. I am simply saying one needs to know what they are likely to face and deal with if they choose that route however. I believe Jesus calls it “counting the cost.”

Second would be the “spiritual friendship” approach. This would be Christians, primarily Catholic but others as well, who accept and even embrace their LGBT side and identify as such but who nevertheless choose celibacy. At one point I challenged this idea too–I do not anymore. Some in those circles choose partners, even having life commitment ceremonies, but choose to not become sexual with that person. The pitfall of course is to live under the same roof with someone you are attracted to and love deeply and to avoid ever having sex or anything close to it. How far can a person go? Is kissing okay? Is emotional “marriage” okay? What if one or the other chooses to eventually marry sacramentally to a person of the opposite sex? How devastating could that be for the partner left behind? Again there are blessings and pitfalls in this approach. But it at least has some refreshing honesty. A website to learn more of the thoughts and ideas behind this concept would be https://spiritualfriendship.org.

Finally what about those who are within the Church but are not at the place where they can choose to give up full sexuality and possibly even marry those of their own gender biologically? The Church as we speak is having many conflicting ideas and discussions in regards to the place of such people in the Church, as to whether they are allowed to receive Holy Communion or even have a Christian funeral.  This struggle to me is the most heartbreaking–and in fact the one that the vast majority of LGBT Christians, whether Catholic or other, find themselves dealing with.

A high-profile priest who in the past worked closely with Courage has suggested publicly that it would be allowable to have such couples in one’s home, for example at Thanksgiving or other holidays, but never to refer to them as a “couple.” Really? People who are committed to one another, who share a home and bed, and who are faithful to one person rather than being promiscuous, but we are told that the “truly Catholic” approach is to pretend none of that is the case and to make the partner of one’s beloved son or daughter feel slighted due to what the Church terms as an irregular relationship? I cannot believe that this type of thinking still goes on. But it does and regularly.

Let me use a slightly different example from my own life many years ago. A friend of mine (straight) was dating a woman, and they suddenly broke up. A couple of short weeks later his former girlfriend arrived on the scene and he decided rather suddenly to marry her. Then, he asked me to be best man at the ceremony. I prayed on it, and finally decided that the best approach was to speak to him privately about my concerns. I did so, and then agreed to accept the supreme honor of standing up for him, and have never regretted doing so. It has been years since we have been in contact, but I am pretty sure from all indications that this marriage was a lasting one. And, even if it had not been, I had clearly shared my suggestions regarding waiting so I knew he could never say I had not done so. We remained wonderful friends, even after their first child was born, and that simply would not have happened if I had pushed him away at that moment.  There are no easy answers in such scenarios, whether gay or straight, but turning from him and his bride-to-be would not have prevented that marriage from occurring. It would however have estranged us, possibly forever. Supporting him did not mean agreeing with him. Nor does it with same-sex couples. They belong in our homes and Thanksgiving tables, as well as our parishes.

How this fits with same sex marriages is simple–I do not agree with the priest from Courage who suggested that we distance ourselves from loved ones who choose another path.  Expressing initial concern is one thing, but I believe that being there for them in that crucial hour could make all of the difference later on in regards to them coming back to the Church or not.  Again I probably have horrified a few readers by this view, but to me that is the far more pastoral approach.  And, by the way, it is no longer “so-called same sex marriage.” Legally it is marriage, whether one agrees with the concept or not. In the same vein Bruce Jenner is now legally a woman and her name is Kaitlyn. If you cannot acknowledge that or must make light of it, as so many Catholics and other Christians are absolutely fond of doing, you do neither her nor your cause any service. I am not sure what we are attempting to prove by calling someone else’s sexual identity by other names than they prefer. We do not have to agree with them. But pretending their perception or legal identity does not exist, or for that matter spending time fighting to reverse the law, whether one fought for it or against it at the time, is a waste in my view, and a good way to turn away some very good LGBT people from the very place they should feel most welcome–the house of God. A great place to learn more about Catholics on this particular path would be https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com. I would say succinctly that this site is not endorsed by the Church. But it is an excellent resource  to become educated on the feelings and concerns of those you may at times disagree with and yet who have struggles more similar to yours than you may expect.

I am sure this post brings more questions than answers to many of you.  And there is much more I could add to the three approaches discussed here.  But the Church does not need to choose between defending her doctrine and accepting those who do not. To me that is the bottom line here. And I think it is a crucial one for the day we live in.

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