Long before the phrase “marriage equality” was on the lips of every other politician and every other schoolchild (that is, a few years ago), a priest friend of ours, Fr. Paul, used to ask his students: “What would you say to someone who wanted to marry his boyfriend?”
On cue, without fail, his teenage audience would grimace and intone in unison, “Eeeeww!”
“No,” he’d explain patiently. “That’s not an argument.”
* * * * *
Times have changed, and he wouldn’t likely get that kind of response now, especially among teenagers. Many see it as a no-brainer: equality and justice on the one hand, cruelty and irrationality on the other. As far as they can tell, it all boils down to this:
But Fr. Paul had a point.
He meant that “ew” wasn’t sufficiently articulated or thought out. He wanted the students to turn over in their minds the nature of marriage, of masculine and feminine, of the various kinds of love and commitment. He wanted them equipped to respond rationally to their opponents: people hostile to the institution of marriage and natural law. (The necessity of this is far clearer today than it was back then.)
But “ew” is not only intellectually deficient, it’s damaging to people struggling with same sex attraction. It can make them feel horribly unwelcome in the church—not just that their actions are being censured but that they, as persons, are being singled out as unclean and unwanted.
It’s not just a battle between those who are trying to salvage the last remnants of cultuaral sanity and those who are consciously plotting to topple western civilization. Caught in the middle are who experience these attractions and are laboring to understand what to make of them. They can end up instrumentalized, pressured into accepting the assumptions of one side or the other, collateral damage of the culture wars.
In a new video called The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church, we hear a seldom-told side of the story.
One man, David, describes it like this:
There’s two camps [...] those that say, you’re going to hell, God hates homosexuals--and then there’s people who say […] oh, you can just live an active gay life, God loves everybody, it’s OK, He wants you to love too!
From the Church you hear either nothing or “that’s gross,” and from the secular media you start to feel this embrace, this support, this "Let’s go out and find these people and help them." ... Wow. It’s no wonder that so many people leave, right?
I knew what was prohibited. I knew there wasn’t a future for me [...] being married to a man or something [.…] I didn’t know why it was prohibited; it seemed arbitrary and cruel, as it still seems to a lot of people.
And Melinda adds:
Unfortunately there are a lot of people who have had negative experiences. Usually it’s with people who have grasped the law but who have not grasped the teaching that the homosexual is a person.
That's what this video accomplishes: it cuts through the false alternative: either we honor the experience of the persons in question by compromising moral truth, or we honor the truth by shrugging off the experience of persons.
I hope you'll watch the whole thing (much more rewarding than reading transcribed snippets) and share your impressions. It ends on a happy, even a triumphant note. But it's a real window into the experience of the ones we're all supposedly talking about. It's enlightening, sometimes surprising, sometimes painful, and finally hopeful. At least that's how it struck me.
What do you think?