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Hey, There's A Rainbow In My Church! (And We're Okay With It)
I recently read a book that made me so mad I put it down and started talking to my sister about why people assume that just because you believe in God you must hate/secretly hate gay people.
“I know what you mean!” My sister said, and went on to tell me about her college roommate who she only found out was a lesbian when someone asked her if her girlfriend, who had been feeling sick, was any better. When my sister asked why her roommate hadn’t confided this detail about her life before – she’d thought they were friends, and had previously spent hours talking about the guys on their floor, and such a deception hurt her – her roommate said that she didn’t talk about being a lesbian because my sister, like me, is Catholic.
What? So because we’re Catholic we can’t live in the twenty-first century, where politicians, celebrities, and people very close to home are gay? Because Catholics must automatically turn their backs on people for loving who they love?
Here’s the Catholic Church’s official position on homosexuality, taken from my student Bible: You can be gay, you just can’t act on the physical impulse to be gay because sex is only for procreation and two same-sex people cannot have a baby between them. It just cannot biologically happen.
Here’s the local Catholic churches’ standpoint: ___________.
Yeah, it’s not really talked about. If pressed, the priest will mumble something about not judging lest ye be judged, about Jesus standing for love. And I will tell you that a there are a few gay couples in our parish. I will tell you that Catholics, and every other denomination of Christian I’ve met, interact with them in the same way an atheist, Jew, or Muslim would. With kindness.
It is a small portion of Christians who will actively try to change homosexuals, or say that homosexuality is a sin worthy of hell. I consider myself a good Catholic, and I think those people are appalling. That church that stood near the grave of a soldier with signs saying that he deserved to die because of America’s tolerance of homosexuality? Those people are the exception, not the rule.
I took a class last year called 20th Century Pop Culture. It’s my favorite class I’ve ever taken, and we talked a lot about homosexuality – the case I mentioned above, with the church that showed up at the funeral, was in trial in the Supreme Court. There was a boy in the class who the teacher liked to call “the voice of the people.” The kid who falls asleep and wakes up to say something surprisingly poignant. During this conversation about homosexuality, the boy rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Aw, who cares if they’re gay? I just don’t want two dudes making out on my locker. I don’t want a guy and a girl making out on my locker either, though. Just take the PDAs inside and it’s all cool.”
The teacher said that most of America probably felt the same way. The silent majority, you know? But it’s always the minority who makes the news, isn’t it?
I’m not saying that there aren’t radicals. I’m not saying that homosexuality is tolerated to the point where if you see two guys holding hands on the street you don’t do a double take, or stare. I’m just saying that no one should assume that just because you believe in God, practice Christianity, or look to the Pope in Rome for guidance means that you hold hate in your heart against a very small group of people.
In the case of my sister and her roommate: my sister sat down with the girl and said that she was hurt. “I wish you’d trusted me enough to tell me such an important fact about yourself. And I wish you didn’t judge me based on my religion.”
No one should be discriminated against for their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. So why is it that all Christians get a bad rap on this particular topic? Most of us don’t care who you choose to love. We’re worried about our own lives, thank you very much.
I know that Christianity is singled out a lot because gay marriage is such a hot-button issue. Look, I think someone in Washington came up with a plan which I personally agree with: All marriages are unions. If you get married in a church, as in the marriage is a sacrament, then it’s a marriage. Everyone else -- atheists and homosexuals and God-haters alike – have a union. Because marriage is a sacrament, people. I’ve met some homosexuals who would love to get married in a church, and you can usually find a member of the clergy in the denomination of your church to do that for you, but most have renounced religion for one reason or another. Atheists have, too. So marriage is only for those who want it to be a sacrament. Everyone else, you have your unions.
I’m not trying to incite riots or arguments. I’m trying to lay it all on the line. I’m Catholic. I don’t hate gay people. The things are not mutually exclusive, no matter what Jodi Picoult says. Most Christians are enlightened enough to gloss over some of the archaic stuff in the Bible – stoning adulterers? We’d have no celebrities left.
I don’t judge gay people on their sexual orientation. All I’m asking for in return is not to be judged on my religion.