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T

he Catholic Church in America (CCIA) is defined by our relationship with Christ, not our understanding of human sexuality. According to a 2011 article in the Huffington Post, “The Civil Rights Issue of Our time is Gay Marriage.” From the perspective of this article, the key players in our country’s most significant civil rights movement are on the wrong side of it. The author blamed the church for taking on the role as the “oppressor.” This author epitomizes the false dichotomy and uninformed, or willfully ignorant position of those maintaining a militant LGBTQ agenda against the Church.
Gay is the New Black
"Gay is the New Black," how do we respond to the "gayification" of the Church?
 
As a child of the ‘60s, I missed much of the actual Civil Rights Movement, but the remnants of oppression and stories of segregation were often brought to top mind in my youth and young adulthood. It is in this light that I was a bit taken back recently when I came across a video by a young (Black) Christian pastor, titled “Gay is the New Black." It seems that human sexuality rather than race has indeed become the human rights issue of our age. Not only is this a secular issue, but is also challenging the kerygma or teachings of the Church. 
 
In our upbringing, my sisters and I were taught the value of diversity, and so I learned to love all people regardless of their race, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic background. However, this “love” for all does not necessitate acceptance, approval, or inclusion of every notion of propriety. 
 
As a particular people of God, the CCIA is anti-Sin — All Sin; “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus...” Romans 3:23-24
 
I find that a great divide exists within the Church of Christ regarding the very concept of sin:

  1. Those of us on the conservative side of the equation often get so caught up in the LGBTQwxyz debate that we spend virtually no time teaching on other aspects of human sexuality and sin. In that light, most conservative churches are seemingly identified as being Anti-LGBTQ. When did sexuality become the overarching issue that defines our humanity?
  2. Those who identify with a modern, so-called liberal understanding of Church generally minimize sexual sin and even have a propensity to deny that virtually anything can be deemed sexually immoral. The divide is so great that there are actually certain churches upon which their whole identity is focused on their sexual identity.

Humanity has a “Sin” problem, in that many define for themselves what is right in their own minds. The overarching example of this problem in our day is evidenced by the ongoing social commentary regarding human sexuality. Yes, as we read in Romans “all have sinned.” However, we do ourselves and our church members a great disservice when we have a mono-focus on one particular sin in the genre of sexuality.

In his book, "Building a Bridge,” Fr. James Martin, SJ advocates for a kinder and more gentle Church when it comes to our language and polemic regarding so-called LGBTQ catholics. I agree in a sense. However, our love and compassion must never be confused with accepting alternative morality as being normative. The activists in this arena conflate love with hate and welcome with acceptance.

Much of Catholic teachings have traditionally revolved around the metaphorical example of a marriage between a man and a woman being joined together in matrimony — as being representative of God’s relationship with the Church, as the Bride of Christ. So, in that light, anything that bastardizes that relationship is considered sin, whether it is sex outside of traditional marriage, adultery, homosexuality, or any other sexual deviation.

Liberal churches, relying on self-serving, modern scholasticism, deny the inspired nature of scripture, relegating the sacred texts to being merely words of men. In approaching scripture in the manner, they like the Gnostics of history deny the effects of sins of the flesh. Therefore, in their teachings, nothing they do of a sexual nature can be harmful, sinful, or separate them from God.

This type of teaching was just beginning to come into vogue about 25 years ago when I was beginning my formation for the ministry. My wife and I were attending a church in Orange California that was beginning its own journey down the slippery slope towards liberalism. In their attempt to be inclusive and open, that particular parish had unrepentant adulterers and homosexuals in active ministry roles. Yes, “All Have Sinned,” however, we are all called to repentance and conformity to God’s will, as presented in both Holy Scripture and confirmed by Holy Tradition.

The message of Martin and other LGBTQ activists is that we, as a Church are being hypocritical in our teachings regarding homosexuality because our homiletic is not consistent or silent on other issues of sexual sin. So, once again, I find myself in agreement with Fr. Martin, in general. Generally speaking the Church on a whole is failing by only reacting to the most vociferous example of sexual sin in our day. Adultery, fornication, pedophilia and other forms of sexual deviancy are indeed sinful and should be confronted as well. To be fair though, the Church is not being confronted on a regular basis by organized and sometimes militant organizations advocating for the reform of our teachings regarding adultery or fornication in general. 

Gay Church
A Local Gay-Centric Church

The position that Martin and others are advocating is not simply for inclusion in the life of the Church! All are truly welcome, saint and sinner alike! I have never attended a single parish where love and compassion were not their hallmarks of faith. No, those advocating for the LGBTQ movement within the Catholic Church are not simply seeking a bridge and a welcome, they are demanding full inclusion and acceptance.

The CCIA believes that truth is absolute, not relative. We do not believe that personal feelings are a valid measuring rod for determining what is moral or not. Our founding documents give assent to the first article of the Declaration of Utrecht -- in that, we declare fidelity to the teachings of the primitive Church. Anything less would (in that understanding) NOT be Catholic.

Yes, “All Are Welcome” as the song goes, but our teachings will not be coddling or accepting of every wind of doctrinal change. Our understanding of who Jesus will remain our core focus. We are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  In love, we shall not hesitate to call sin, sin — All Sin. If you truly believe, like we do, that it is sin which separates us from a loving God, it becomes a definite lack of love to remain silent on matters of sexual sin.

In practical application, just as we are called to be "color-blind," we must not be mono-focused when it comes to areas of sexual sin. We must never become a church that is flying a flag of sexual identity of any sort.

 

Pax Vobiscum

++ Michael