Will Rogers said, "I never met a man I didn't like," but Jesus' life says, "I never met a sinner I didn't want to befriend." Jesus was "the friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34). He was a people person and befriended the alienated, morally down and out people. Jesus loved the sinner but hated the sin. He treated people he came in contact with as individuals of great worth. He sees what you can become.
Like Jesus we must speak with humility. We are to extend the same love and inclusion toward all. The Bible tells us to "love our neighbors." That includes loving all our neighbors. Neighbors that are black, white, gay, straight and of different origins. We are all children of God. When they are in pain, we are to be the first to befriend, protect, and serve them (Luke 10:25-37)
Jesus never spoke ill of anyone. I have pondered upon the Catholic church's definition of homosexuality being an "intrinsically evil disorder. I found an interesting contradiction. Catholicism states the following, "Sins are acts involving the intellect (knowing) and the will (choosing). An orientation is not, in and of itself, an act or a sin." In the next sentence it states, "The homosexual orientation itself is intrinsically evil, but not itself a sin. Since the homosexual orientation is intrinsically evil, any and all acts, whether sexual or not, by which a human person knowingly chooses to move toward, cooperate with, reinforce, or act upon, a homosexual orientation is itself a sin, either venial or mortal.
This makes my head spin. I am not intrinsically evil and it is my opinion that to be a homosexual is not intrinsically evil and that homosexuals are not intrinsically evil because the teachings all stae this; "All human persons are children of God." No human person is intrinsically evil, even if he or she has an intrinsically evil orientation. It is a bit of a contradiction. No person is intrinsically evil even if he or she has a sexual orientation that is intrinsically evil....I opine that God loves us all equally and that to be homosexual or heterosexual deviant is based on what we find in our hearts. There are many sexual deviants that are straight and there are many that are gay. It is how we conduct out lives and the choices that we make. Sexuality is an act and an art of demonstrative love that can be twisted just as any behavior and choice can be twisted.
These teachings have perpetuated hatred and violence. They continue to perpetute hatred and violence and they most certainly go against the teachings of Christ; love thy neighbor. Love the sinner, hate the sin. But can humans really find it in their hearts to love the sinner and hate the sin? Is hating the sin a form of judgment? That is something that we must ask from within our hearts.
I grew up knowing that I was homosexual but I didn't think anything was wrong with my feelings until I was told that loving someone of the same sex was sinful. I felt that I was born a sin. That I had trouble rectifying that if God made me as I am and loved me, I could not understand why He would make me a homosexual. These ideas placed a 40 year wedge between myself and God.
I struggled because in good faith I could not marry a woman. I didn't love women that way. Marrying a woman and having children with her to suppress my sexuality would only cause more grief and confusion and involve the lives of others. I questioned suppressing my sexuality and as any human being, I could not suppress my love for the man I eventually fell in love with when I was 22.
Later, I spoke with a priest and he asked me if throughout my 25 year relationship with the same man I ever thought of myself as intrinsically evil or disordered. "No," I replied, "but I have felt like a complete outcast because I choose to love."
I asked the old priest about Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is a perfect example of Jesus' acceptance, forgiveness and love for all He came into contact with. It was Jesus who said, "He who has not sinned let them cast the first stone." I have always interpreted this to mean that Jesus loves and accepts us despite our sinful behavior. " The old priest never disagreed with me, he only smailed and said, "People are not perfect, we must forgive them just as Christ forgave and we must endure the trials my son."
I suppose the church felt obligated to instill that notion in me at a young age. Looking back at my naivete, the church could have probably sold me swamp land in Florida and I would have bought it.
Jesus never spoke about homosexuality and if He did He would have never called something God created intrinsically evil. Jesus never mentioned homopsexuality but we do know this: Jesus teaches that most people are created for heterosexual marriage. (We too accept this as God's predominant creation paradigm.) Jesus does not see this as the only honorable way to live. He acknowledges that some human beings have been created by God to follow a less common, but equally legitimate path. Could that equally legitimate path been in reference to homosexuality? I believe so. It could have also meant a life of celibacy. This legitimate path was the same path taken by Sts. Sergious and Bacchus who were openly gay lovers and were third century Roman Christian martyrs who were tortured to death in Syria because they refused to attend sacrifices in honor of Jupiter. This alone indicates an earlier Christian acceptance of homosexuality.
It is evident that homsexuality is a current hot topic in politics and religion. I believe that in the eyes of God, that loving someone of the same sex does not remove us from a state of grace. I believe who we choose to love is scared and should be acknowledged by the church. Throughout my 25 year relationship I was guilty of many sins, but living in a committed relationship was never one of them. Remember, what God has joined together let no man put asunder.
Today the Catholic church is in dispute over the cannonization of Cardinal John Newman. Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845, his star rose quickly, as he became a priest and later a Cardinal. Today, Newman is considered one of the greatest teachers of Christianity, having written some 60 works of philosophy and theology, novels, hymns and poetry. Many are now questioning his sexuality. Ambrose St. John, was a fellow convert and Catholic priest. Newman described St. John as "my earthly light." The two men were inseparable; they lived together for 32 years and are now buried side by side. Should this disqualified him from sainthood? Absolutely not! I believe it was the same equally path taken by Sts. Sergious and Bacchus. It is proof that loving committed relationships can be spiritually connected to God and His Divine plan.
Sin is recognized through the conscience of the individual and with genuine sorrow will be forgiven by God. Who we love does not require penance in the eyes of God. Church doctrine using the term intrinsically evil can only deter the salvation of souls. In the mass we are reminded of the forgiveness of God as we hear the words, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This is Jesus saying you are forgiven, come and accept my friendship and love.
There is no doubt that the path I took some 40 years ago was one of those less common paths that Jesus spoke of. My new path is as an openly gay religious. At birth God grants us the right to choose our path. He only asks to be a part of that path.
Br. Christopher Sale B.P.P.