There was a protest in Detroit last weekend. You can read the story here.
You probably didn’t know about it, because there was only a handful of people.
But that handful of people still made the Detroit News. And it really bothered me. I tried to think of why it bothered me so much. Was it because some of the organizers of the protest were at a workshop I presented at last month? Was it because it was so difficult to present, knowing a handful of people were just waiting for me to misspeak so they could take me down? Was it that the protest tried to perpetuate the idea that the Church's teachings are hateful? It took a while for me to figure out, but this morning, I got it.
It bothered me so much because they shouldn't have been protesting. Their protest was another form of bullying and unjust treatment of a group who has tolerated far too much bullying and injustice.
What were they protesting? I’d like to explain.
They were protesting a group called Courage. This is an apostolate working with men and women of the LGBT community to help them feel welcomed in the Catholic Church, while still acknowledging the Church’s sexual teachings. Some might say that’s an impossibility. I don’t think so, but I’m okay if you do. I haven’t always loved Courage, I am not even comfortable saying I love the group now. I will say, I think they have made strides in the last few years to clean up language, and to soak their method in a deep love of the human person. I dig that.
I get why people would be cautious of this ministry. Mentalities like, ‘pray the gay away’, the cultural wars, etc…have made people weary of any ministry that might suggest freedom can be found in living the Church’s teaching on sexuality. I get it, I really do, but I don’t think it is fair.
I don’t think it is fair that presenters (often gay men and women) from Courage face protests, threats and jeering persecution. I really don’t.
Homophobia and bigotry is just as alive in the people of the Catholic Church as other places. I see it all the time. You wouldn't believe some of the ideas people challenge in the different presentations I do. You see, the Church has ‘Church Language’…language sometimes hard to understand. Expressions like, ‘objectively disordered’ and ‘intrinsically evil’. That language can be problematic, in that without being properly understood, it has made way for homophobic and hurtful ideas to be spread in the name of Christ’s teaching.
I hate that.
But I also hate when people say that chastity can’t be an option for the LGBT Catholics. It bothers me.
It bothers me like I used to be bothered when people couldn't believe chastity could be an option for single people waiting to get married. I didn't have sex until I was thirty years old and married. I had people actually sitting me down and sharing their concern with me about that. Suggesting it was unnatural. It was oppressive. And, that I would surely be disappointed on my wedding night (I wasn't).
It bothers me like the reaction I get when people find out my husband and I don’t use artificial birth control. At LEAST three or four times a year have people (generally well-intentioned) make sure to share with me I am following an archaic and dangerous teaching.
It bothers me when people question how it could ever be possible for priests to forgo the Sacrament of Marriage and witness a life of abstinence and chastity. How many times have you heard that pedophilia happened in the Catholic Church because priests can’t have sex? It’s insulting. And it’s a terribly damaging mindset.
Look. I get the Church’s teachings are VERY difficult to understand in our contemporary culture. They are difficult to understand because they are so radically different from so many of the messages we receive on the regular about sex, relationships, marriage, etc… But that doesn't mean people should be lined up protesting or exhibiting a type of intolerance most would reject if they thought about it critically.
You see, those protesters on Friday/Saturday (the handful) admitted Courage is not rejecting people. The protesters admitted courage doesn't flirt with the dangerous ground of trying to change orientation, or encourage their participants to ‘ask God to change them’. Rather, COURAGE offers community to those men and women who are of the LGBT community and have decided (by their OWN choice) to live a life of chastity within the folds of the Catholic Church.
Because, we as Catholics believe that community is essential for the tough stuff. Now, you might claim that Catholics shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to the do the tough stuff…but, that’s not your call to make.
And if an adult chooses that path, they certainly shouldn't be made to feel like idiots. They certainly shouldn't be told they are ‘denying who they are’. They certainly shouldn't be pressured to feel like they are making an unnatural choice. And THAT is why the protest bothered me.
Because we need community to do the ‘tough stuff’! To go against the norm of what is being celebrated today.
When I was single and living a different reality of dating (than what our culture celebrates), I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have a community of people who supported me. Men/Women who were able to walk with me, in shared faith and encourage me when I was discouraged.
Now that my husband and I live the reality of Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness/whatever you want to call it, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have a community of people who understand. Who I can have frank discussions with. A community to share my struggles and the joys. A community to cry with and celebrate with. It is essential to living my faith.
And it bothers me that there is a group of people who have deemed it ‘protestable’ (I’m pretty sure I made up that word) to offer that same community to Catholic people in the LGBT community who have decided to live out the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
It’s not fair.
It’s not right.
And perhaps the most screwy thing, is most of the people protesting are probably doing it because they think they are HELPING those within that community. Well, I can tell you I have sat with men/women, and heard the stories of those who have been personally hurt by people telling them they shouldn’t live out their sexuality in a chaste way if that is what they want to do. And it’s not nice.
So anyway, I just wanted to tell you why it bothered me so much.
You know the drill. Feel free to comment/share your feelings/enter into dialogue. BUT, if you don’t do it respectfully, I shall delete your comments J Not because I am intolerant, but because you are (that sounded sassy…whatevs!).