I grew up in a large family (two sisters and four boys) with parents who are devout Catholics. As expected, I studied in Catholic schools which echoed the Christian life my parents lived and sought for us to live, and learned very early on the basics of the Church’s doctrine, especially when it came to the teachings about homosexuality. I know that the Church does not condemn gay people; it’s only the doctrine-less, Catholics and Christians who do. I know what the Church does condemn the “homosexual acts”, which by consequence, expects homosexuals to live a life of chastity. What the Church teaches is that homosexuality is an inclination to acts which are “disordered” and thus calls on those “afflicted” by it to be celibate, because there really is no choice for the gay man, right? Surely, a gay man would rather be single for life than marry a woman. And of course, chastity here means avoiding sexual encounters and relationships with the same sex, knowing full well that the Catholic church does not believe in the possibility of conjugal union between homosexuals.
Obviously, I don’t agree with a lot of these things. But I respect the Church. All those years in Catholic schools made me aware of the sources of the Church’s ethical and moral convictions i.e. natural law, St. Thomas, scripture, tradition, divine inspiration. Unlike today’s media, I am not particularly hostile towards the gospel message. Instead, I listen and read and prefer discussion to flesh out issues rather than rely on pleas to emotion. And as a consequence, I expect people of the Church to hear me out as well. Contrary to what media presents, there are a lot of Christians who are compassionate towards homosexuals. Of course, they will disagree on issues like same-sex marriage. They will say it is wrong. But I won’t be the first person to call them a bigot for adhering to their system of belief, in much the same way, these good Catholics I know will not be scandalized by an atheist. Hate the sin not the sinner is their mantra.
But that’s not the point of what I’m writing.
I have observed so many times Catholic homosexual men and women seemingly oblivious or indifferent to the teachings of the Church. Some of them I know personally. A few even serve in parish ministries. As such, it confuses me how they are able to seemingly commit to their faith yet in private have sexual relations with other men and women. Catholic and still gay; gay and still Catholic – that is how they appear to me.
I stalk their Facebook accounts and I see posts inviting people to processions, evangelization seminars, novenas to the Virgin Mary; memes on Jesus Christ, quoted bible verses, pilgrimages to Manaoag. And yet, when I meet them in person, they nonchalantly talk about the men they have slept with, the male escorts they hire or stories of their dating life. Since I know them personally, I bluntly ask if they never are guilty of what they do, especially when they receive communion without going to confession. For those unaware of the catechism, committing sexual acts – not just homosexual – outside marriage is considered a mortal sin, and thus, must be confessed. If one goes to communion without having confessed the matter, they commit an even greater mortal sin, which quite simply put, condemns one’s soul to hell if the person died without having sought the sacrament of reconciliation.
Some say, yes they do feel guilty. Some say no, remarking that’s who they are and God made them a that way.
I am, quite frankly, confused with this double-life. If there’s one teaching of Jesus which strikes me the most, it is that you cannot serve two masters at once. I don’t believe you can be truly gay and truly Catholic. I don’t think there are means of reconciling the two. The person has to make a choice: either deny his needs as a gay man and become a struggling Christian or completely forget about the Church and just live his life the way he sees it fit. I find it especially strange when homosexuals use Jesus to validate their lifestyles. Just a few weeks ago, I saw this popular blogger thank Jesus profusely for the Obergefell decision. It just seemed so out of place to want to thank someone who basically taught the opposite. Of course, others will say Jesus never said anything about homosexuals in the bible, or that Jesus is love, and so love wins and everyone deserves it.
I don’t plan to stop these people from going to Church. But I feel uneasy with the idea of gays or lesbians just being who they are (being here means having same-sex relations) and still participating in the Catholic faith. What I see is similar to what Robert George describes as Plato’s Third Form of Atheism. At the end of the article, he says:
Many believers, however, are being led, as Victoria Beeching has been led, into Plato’s third form of atheism—belief in an imaginary God made in the image and likeness of man, as man is conceived in the pseudo-religion of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism. It is a most convenient “God” who is always willing to say, “do whatever you feel like doing, darling; I love you just the way you are.”
I’m not saying these gay men and women have no right to think they are loved by God. I’d like to believe in my very rough concept of the Supreme Being, that God is someone who is beyond human comprehension, and maybe if he does love us, it’s in a way we don’t fully understand. Nor should I be presumptuous to think all gay men and women are not interested in religion. But in adhering to a certain way of life, it sounds preposterous and even dangerous to be halfhearted about it. You cannot be gay and only accept the teachings of the Church that you find convenient for you in much the same way there is no such thing as a “modern Catholic” who would support same-sex marriage. You have to be wholehearted to one and only one. I’d like to think that is how it works.
I understand Jesus’ metaphor on the two masters originally applied to wealth. But to me it extends to a whole gamut of life’s aspects, particularly to matters of sexuality and religion. And it isn’t exclusive to homosexuals alone. Who would find a priest credible if he were accused of molesting children? Isn’t this precisely why sex scandals involving the clergy have severely tarnished the reputation of the Catholic Church; because people know that if your vocation is that of Holy Orders, you’re expected to conform to your priestly duties? And even outside of the Catholic Church, wouldn’t a minister who blatantly commits adultery be odd, hypocritical? Wouldn’t his preaching mean nothing with his reputation?
Or outside of sexuality and back to what the bible verse originally pertained to, aren’t we scandalized when we see Binay going to mass, performing his Christian duties when we know all too well how corrupt he is? Yes, if we apply the Catholic teachings, God loves Binay. He came for the sinners not the saints, as they say. But doesn’t love, in all its forms, also require something from us even if it means giving up what we want (in Binay’s case all the stolen money).
A comment on the article I linked expressed much of my sentiment about this issue. In reference to the article, they say:
Doesn’t the real theological problem reside in the clause “just the way I am”? Had she said only, “I’m gay and God loves me””–what fellow Christian would gainsay her? She’d be restating an article of orthodox faith.
But the latter part of the claim is a pretty significant presumption. In what other circumstance would a Christian say, “God loves me just the way I am”? I assume she does not mean, “God loves me IN SPITE OF my orientation”–on the model of Paul’s statement that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8); I assume that she does not mean to account gayness as a sin. Fair enough. Does she then mean that God approves of her gayness, or that it’s of no consequence to God? But how can anyone claim to know this in any objective sense?
Don’t get me wrong. Homosexuals aren’t immoral beings per se. But the context I am working on is Christianity. Certainly, there is a place for gays and lesbians in the Catholic community but logically, they could only truly be a part of it if they are prepared to deny themselves in pursuit of their faith. I don’t believe in revisionists who think the Church should make accommodations. That is precisely why it is the Church of two-thousand years – it is an institution which resists faddishness. It will not agree on you just “being who you are”. If you are gay, then be so. If you want to be Catholic, then you have to “become like Christ”. One has to choose only one.