Follow Up to #badCatholic

I’ve done some reading and research over this past week, trying to understand my own feelings regarding marriage equality and my Catholic faith. I am neither a theologian nor a lawyer, so in some ways, I simply cannot speak to the larger issues of these things.

The most important part of the Catholic message is the following (and I am quoting directly from Bishop David Zubik’s letter in this week’s Pittsburgh Catholic):

“The Church has taught and will continue to teach respect for the dignity of all women and men, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church is here for everyone, and Jesus extends his love and mercy to all of us.”

The most imporant thing to remember about America is that we have a firm basis of rights and liberties that are NOT built on religion. I don’t know when the idea of American being a Christian nation took root, but it is simply incorrect.

Are we a nation build on ethical and moral law? We sure are. One doesn’t need to be a religious person to be a good person. Treat others well, do not harm others, be kind, treat every person with respect and dignity. These aren’t necessarily precepts that need to be culled from a religious book in order to be codified into law.

The Catholic church is remarkably consistent in its teachings about sex and death. Sacramental marriage, that is marriage performed in a church by a priest, will remain between one man and one woman. Sex outside of that sacrament is viewed as a sin. Adultery, premarital sex, sex after divorce, and homosexual sex are all rated the same. Priests take a vow of celibacy, hence they cannot marry (hence they are not supposed to be sexually active). Nuns take a vow of chastity; they are viewed as married spiritually to Jesus.

The church is also anti-abortion, pro-gun control, anti-death penalty, and against suicide and euthanasia.

The church also teaches its adherents that we have a duty to care for our fellow humans. We should perform acts of mercy and charity, donate to those less fortunate, and work to see that people are protected from harm. As Catholics, as Christians, that is our part of our calling to love everyone.

Many people have written on this issue much more eloquently than I am able. This article from Dwight A. Moody is well articulated and there’s is this one by John Pavlovitz, about what Christians actually lost in the marriage equality ruling (hint: it’s not the freedom to practice our religion).

So. I’m feeling better. I can return to church in good conscience. I can continue to love and support all of my friends and family. I can pray and be heard. As my father said in a text to me (and I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him): “Church is important to you for the right reasons.”

I can love. And that’s the most important thing.

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Peace be with you.

4th of July Fireworks

#badCatholic

Yesterday, I got up during the homily, in which the priest was going to address the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land, and I walked out of church.

And then when I got home, I cried because I walked out of church.

When the priest started his homily, he was completely upfront about what he was going to talk about. I froze. I thought to myself, “Okay, now what am I going to do?”

The priest suggested if we hadn’t read the dissenting opinions on the ruling, that we should. And then he brought up the First Amendment, and I’m pretty sure he was going to head into an argument about how the Supreme Court’s ruling infringed on my freedom to practice my religion. And *that’s* when I leaned over the Flora and Kate and said, “We have to go.”

It wasn’t fair, what I did. It wasn’t brave. I should have sat and heard the priest’s argument so that I could adequately state my position, whether for or against.

But all I could think about was my cousin and his husband, and how happy they looked in pictures. All I could think about was my new friend Kristen (who was in Listen to Your Mother with me) and her wife Beth, and their little girl, with whom I had just spent the bulk of the day. And I couldn’t sit and and risk hearing hateful words about these people, because I love them. And because if the priest said hateful things about them from the pulpit, it would break my heart, because I love being a Catholic.

The American bishops have declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling is a “tragic error”. That marriage is between one man and one woman, and that a human establishment can’t overrule that.

I did go and read the dissenting opinions. I understand the arguments for states’ rights, and I believe, that given time, enough people in enough states would vote to make marriage equality the law of the land. But how much time should we have given states?

The court had to order states to free slaves, allow blacks and women to vote, integrate schools and businesses. So the argument that the court overstepped its role to bring marriage equality to the states just doesn’t fly.

Sometimes people in states have to be told to do the right thing. Sorry, people in states.

As for the potential arguments that same-sex marriage impinges on my First Amendment religious liberty, that I just do not understand. I cannot see how the marriages — and divorces — of my friends and family curtails my right to go to church, receive the Eucharist, pray as I like, and preach the word of God.

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“I say that gratuitous interference in other people’s life is bigotry. The fact that it is often religiously motivated does not make it less so. the United States is not a theocracy, and religious disapproval of harmless practices is not a proper basis for prohibiting such practices, especially if the practices are highly valued by their practitioners. … That isn’t to say that people are forbidden to oppose same-sex marriage; it is merely to remark on one of the costs of that opposition and one of the reasons to doubt that it should be permitted to express itself in a law forbidding such marriage.” — Richard Posnar, writing for Slate

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When I got home and burst into tears in the kitchen, Dan held me. He said, laughing a little bit: “I love you, and this is what I love about you. That you struggle with this.”

He assures me that I can reject what the priest was saying and still be a good and faithful Catholic. “Jesus gave us one commandment,” he reminded me. “Love one another. That’s it. That’s what we have to do.” I have to love everyone, including that priest.

And I suppose Dan is right. I *love* my faith, I love going to church and receiving the Eucharist. It is so integral to who I am as a person. I love the creed and the message of Jesus to love and help one another, to minister to those less fortunate, to bring the light of the Word to others by my speech and by my actions.

If accepting and celebrating the fact that same-sex couples can take advantage of the legal protections and benefits of marriage makes me a bad Catholic — well, it won’t be the first thing. I’ve said before, I am a creed Catholic, and a New Testament Catholic. If Rome parses the Gospel in such a way to declare that holy matrimony, that is, sacramental marriage, is only for heterosexuals… then so be it. But the civil and legal institution of marriage, the right to join your life to the person you love above all others, to live in peace and raise children (if that is your choice) — I’m going to celebrate that, too.

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I suppose I’ll go to confession this week, because I walked out of church and did not receive communion, and prevented my children from receiving communion. And we’ll move forward from there. As with women in ministry, I can do more good in the pew than outside the church.

Right?

Love is Love.
Love is Love.

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