Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to Be Right Yet Be So Wrong


I have written rather extensively on the controversy surrounding Father James Martin and his book, "Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity".  I am always in favor of reaching out to people and trying to bring them to Jesus Christ, and I saw Father Martin's book as just this.  As I have written, I have no personal stake in this argument, other than wanting to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible.

Most of the blog posts and articles I have read condemn Father Martin for his approach.  People feel that Father Martin fails to state the sinfulness of homosexual acts and that completely negates anything else he has to say.  People seem to feel that reaching out to homosexuals must always be accompanied by clear and unambiguous condemnation of homosexual sex.

I do have some problems with Father Martin when it comes to his support of Sister Jeannine Gramick and New Ways Ministry. It is one thing to withhold condemnation from gay people. It is quite another to say that the Church needs to recognize homosexual sex as legitimate. That is indeed a bridge too far, and it has me very concerned.

Yet, Father Martin at no time has ever explicitly said that he would like to change Church doctrine. In fact, he has actually acknowledged that those living an active gay life are sinners, as I have previously written. In an article in the New York Times, Father Martin said, "Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful. Unless the Blessed Mother shows up in the communion line, there is no one sinless in our church." That says to me that he considers homosexuals to be sinners and in need of salvation as much as any of the rest of us.

Of course, many immediately took exception to Father Martin's comment because, as I wrote HERE, they interpreted this comment as equating the homosexual lifestyle to the rest of us who, unlike those wretched homosexuals, actually live pretty good lives. As I wrote, many in the Catholic Internet gave us a classic example of the Pharisee looking down on the tax collector and saying, "Thank God I'm not like him!"


As I have also written, I notice one common denominator among those who condemn Father Martin. They never discuss the methods used by Jesus Christ in his earthly ministry to relate to sinners. Their articles and blog posts are filled with all opinions of the authors, but they never give us the opinion of the only one who really matters - the Founder of Christianity.  In fact, if you do a word search in most of the articles condemning Father Martin, you will not even find the name of Jesus mentioned, much less any reference to the way in which Our Lord related to sinners.

A textbook example of what I am talking about is a blog post from our always reliable Father John Zuhlsdorf.  Father Z can always be counted on to condemn, without reservation, anyone with whom he disagrees.  And, once again, he does not disappoint.  It seems to me that a Catholic priest should have as his main purpose the goal of bringing sinners to Jesus Christ.  Does anyone really believe the following language will bring anyone to salvation:
The homosexualists have slowly been shifting the language about deviant same-sex acts and those who regularly commit them. Through the MSM and entertainment industry the image of homosexuality as something hidden and unclean was broken by replacing it with victim status during the flaming up of the AIDS epidemic in certain populations. Then the victim image had to be broken and replaced, which was accomplished through cool and with it characters in TV shows and other culture movers. Think of the absurdly high percentage of homosexuals in TV shows, increasing every year. I’ll bet you can’t turn on a TV series now and not find it filled with deviants. BUT! They are the cool and emotionally sensitive ones, who have answers for the dysfunctional and often less attractive “hetero” characters. 
So right, and yet so wrong. Technically, everything he wrote here is correct.  But Father Z cloaks it all in judgment and condemnation with not even a hint of compassion or concern.  He sees only evil people who must be opposed in every possible way.  There is no reaching out, no shepherd searching for the lost sheep.

Yes, Father Z is correct when he says there is a gay agenda. It is actually a very open agenda. First and foremost, the LGBT community wanted to be accepted as just another way to "be." But the problem was they were fighting back from extreme persecution and oppression. That pendulum has now swung from hatred and persecution of gays to total acceptance of anything they say and do. And this is what we always see from any oppressed group, from women to blacks to kids, etc. Oppress people, take away their basic dignity and rights, and you have created an enemy who will eventually try to crush you. Pendulums tend to go to extremes, rarely finding that delicate balance. This is a major reason why Our Lord told us to love our enemies, not treat them with contempt. Love will heal people. Hate will destroy.

Back to Father Z's comments: if you are not gay, imagine just for a moment that you are, and think how you would feel if someone said these things to you. Would you listen to a priest who, while knowing absolutely nothing about you as a person, still condemns you? This is not a life you have chosen anymore than others "choose" to be heterosexual. Yet Father Zuhlsdorf shows complete lack of empathy or compassion for gay people, not even for the terrible devastation they suffered during the AIDS epidemic. As his comment states, he considers homosexuals to be deviant and evil. Most gays can give you long stories about the persecution and pain they have experienced, but judging from these comments, Father Zuhlsdorf could not care less about their pain.

Father Z shows some empathy for those who are trying to live chaste lives, but how does he expect people to get to that point when all they receive is condemnation and hate as he has shown? In is post, Father Zuhlsdorf compare gay people to "viruses", and calls them "poor wretches", "wretched dopes" and "sick dupes". Is this how Jesus Christ reached out to those trapped in sin? Our Lord never attacked anyone like this, with one exception - the religious elite. The fact is, Father Zuhlsdorf never refers to Jesus Christ at all in his post. He is too busy condemning.

Father Z quotes from an article entitled, "Re-Building a Bridge: The connection between contraception and the LGBT community'" which purportedly gives us the history of how we have gotten to a culture where being gay is acceptable. Like Father Z, the author, Deacon Jim Russell, never refers to Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, he still does make some very good points in his article. He first talks about Courage, the wonderful apostolate for gay people. This apostolate treats gay people with great dignity and respect. It doesn't call them evil or try to make them "straight."  But I don't think either Father Z nor Deacon Russell really understand how Courage works.  Courage accepts people for who they are and then helps them to live chaste lives. Courage would never use the kind of language used by Father John Zuhlsdorf nor even take the approach of Deacon Russell, as we shall see.

Deacon Jim Russell states, very accurately, that there is a direct link between contraception and the acceptance of sexual immorality and more specifically, homosexual sex.  Contraception removes the procreative aspect of sex, and thus sex becomes no more than a play thing, no more than two people masturbating with each other.  When this happens, sex does not give life, but instead destroys those who misuse it.  I do wish Deacon Russell had at least mentioned that this is as true for straight people as it is for gay people.  The problem is, Deacon Russell focuses only on homosexuality.

Another problem is that Deacon Russell points to contraception as basically the entire reason why gay people are so "out of control."  Nowhere in all of his article does he actually relate to gay people as people.  He never goes anywhere near what they as individuals have suffered, the persecution, the feeling of being alone, cut off from everyone else.  They are just this group out there trying to subvert and destroy our culture.

Deacon Russell is absolutely right, and yet he could not be more wrong.  His article is technically correct as far as it goes, and yet he leaves out one vital aspect almost ensuring that his approach will never bring anyone to the Church, never open up salvation to those trapped in the lies of this world. Deacon Russell believes that to "find our way back home", we need to bring back the truth about contraception and just how evil it is. And yes, contraception is evil. But not to talk about how gays have been treated?  And to not demand that they be treated with respect and dignity?  As mentioned above, Deacon Russell talks about Courage, but he certainly doesn't seem to buy into what they are actually doing.

At the beginning of his article, Deacon Russell makes this statement;
Here’s the problem: it’s been about 150 years since we were really “home,” and most folks alive today have no idea what that home looks like. Before we can go back, we need to rediscover what “home” really is and how we moved so far away from it.
The point of his article is that "home" was destroyed when the procreative dimension was removed from the sex act.  That is a very important point.

At the end of his article, Deacon Russell writes the following statement:
What would have happened if, a century ago, procreation had remained the benchmark for sexual normalcy, as even the promoters of “heterosexual” and “homosexual” originally accepted?
Deacon Russell forgets another very important element needed to find our way "home", and for that reason, he is so very wrong.  

That "missing element" is in I Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
And what is love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
My answer to Father Z, Deacon Russell and all others who use judgment and condemnation:

How different might things be if we had not treated gay people as evil and shunned them, but instead accepted them with love and respect and helped them carry their cross? How many great saints have we lost because of the way in which we treated them?

Does anyone see patience or kindness in Father Z's words or in the article by Deacon Russell? I certainly do not. Unless and until we treat all people with respect, dignity, compassion and yes, with love, we will never reach them.


2 comments:

  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following link:

    https://laciviltacattolica.com/june-2017/evangelical-fundamentalism-and-catholic-integralism-in-the-usa-a-surprising-ecumenism/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing it is His love. This article presents His Heart and Providential nurturing Will. Thank you for it speaks to each of us. May our Lady bless and care for you and yours. Pax.

    ReplyDelete

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