Everybody has their crusades. Mine has recently become directing the discussion of homosexuality in the Catholic Church to the laity – both straight and gay. In reading up on the history of homosexuality in the Church, I have often recalled lengthy conversations with friends on the possibility of a God-blessed, loving homosexual relationship. Some of my friends cannot accept that it, as a state of being, is ok; it is against the natural order. Why? There are those who reference the Bible, others who appeal to the natural creation of man and woman and their complimentary physical gifts. Where does that leave me and my side of the argument?
I have tried to step outside the box in my discussions, urging my friends to think of procreation as the procreation of love, to look at the Bible as the beginning of God’s interaction with mankind, and to see homosexuality as no less natural than heterosexuality if grounded in authentic love. The arguments, not surprisingly, never reach a satisfying end. Although it helps all of us to understand others’ perspectives a little bit better, no one is ultimately swayed.
As I was reading Fr. John McNeill’s “The Church and the Homosexual,” I thought of using his research and enlightened vision as a reference in my own personal debates. When the time comes again to have that discussion with friends, I would be well-armed. Then I thought on it again. What, after all, would I say? “Fr. McNeill – a Catholic himself – has shown how the Biblical and philosophical positions against homosexuality are artificially or falsely grounded.” Would they buy it? If anything, they would want to read his book themselves. And then, perfectly willing to draw on one of my reinforcements, I would offer his work as an insight into my position. Albeit, a better-articulated and better-researched insight than my own.
Supposing they read it, carefully poring over the details, arguments, positions, and theories. Suppose they accepted its viability intellectually. Would that directly translate into heartfelt support for and understanding of a Catholic homosexual? I think not. I don’t mean to suggest that my friends’ heterosexuality automatically disallows them from comprehension of the homosexual condition. Rather, I believe that someone who has been taught from birth that homosexuality is against the will of God – whatever the reasons provided – would have a hell of a time breaking away from that. Ironically, it might be as hard as a homosexual trying to “convert” to heterosexuality.
What’s my point here? In essence, I would like my friends to understand where I’m coming from, what I believe, and how I know that my relationship with God is as strong as ever. If they cannot see this because they were raised and taught in the school of “disorientation,” I would instinctively search for academic support – voices that hold authority, respect, and reputation in the study of homosexuality and the Church. Even so, they might sit down and read Fr. McNeill with all vigor, only to find that they cannot – viscerally, fundamentally – change how they feel. Accepting the intellectual argument is one thing; embracing a position with an open and unbiased heart is another. How many of us – in any discussion – can do this?
Consequently, I don’t know quite what to do. I do know that God opens hearts when they are ready to be opened (provided we are willing), and my time for sharing understanding might not be His. Nonetheless, it is quite disconcerting to think that a faithful individual who has devoted so much of his or her life to spreading the love and understanding of homosexuals both within the Church and without may well find himself locked outside the heart. How easy is it, whatever the methods, to make our way into the deepest and most vulnerable causeways of the human heart and soul?
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Please know that I do not mean this as an attack on anyone. I am, after all, as guilty of failing to understand others as any human being. Hopefully, however, we can find someway to share our visions and promote a mutual understanding. Then, our discussions will not only be progressive, but prodigiously fruitful.