This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage. (First post here.) The goal of these posts is not to convince anyone to think what I think, but to create a conversation and explore the topics together. I am not an authority figure on this issue, and will not always approach this from a highly academic perspective, but am writing as a Catholic young voice seeking the truth. I hope you’ll follow along and be part of the conversation!
One of the biggest challenges facing people who believe marriage is between one man and one women is how to support and love people who are directly affected by our beliefs. Where do we draw the line between loving people with homosexual tendencies, and going too far in implying that we support a lifestyle we don’t agree with?
Here are a few tips for trying to balance disagreeing with life choices and loving people who make them:
1. Love everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, etc.
Just because someone is sexually attracted to someone of the same doesn’t mean they’re less human or less deserving of respect. We have to remember that everyone should be treated with love no matter what, because nothing can take away our dignity as human beings.
2. Be conscious of how you’re being asked to participate in other people’s lives.
If I had a friend moving in with her boyfriend, I wouldn’t give them a housewarming gift because I don’t support cohabitation. It’s not because I don’t love them or want them to have a beautiful home. I just won’t support their lifestyle because I believe it’s wrong. Same with gay marriage. If I’m ever asked to attend a gay marriage ceremony, I will not attend or give a wedding gift. It’s not because I don’t love those people, but I can’t bestow my support of their lifestyle on them by supporting their union. Be conscious of what you’re being asked to do, and choose wisely.
3. Be clear in loving people that you love and support them as human beings, but not their lifestyle.
It’s important to be careful how we articulate our beliefs in these situations. They’ll know we are Christians by our love, right? We have to respond to invitations and questions remembering that every person possesses an innate dignity and is worthy of love and respect. But at the same time, we have to stick to our beliefs. Sugarcoating issues never helps us get down to the nitty gritty of loving people where they’re at.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 2358 that “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” But what do we accept? And what’s going too far?
Perhaps we need to be a bit more explicit here. What exactly can and can’t we do?
- welcome homosexual friends into your life
- treat people with homosexual tendencies with the same respect as any other person
- both of the above, even if they have partners
- be gracious in conversation with homosexual friends
- educate yourself so you can correct misconceptions
- be open to talking about the truth about love and marriage
- be a witness to the challenge and joy of being a Catholic/Christian, even when it’s hard (because you might be the only Bible someone ever reads)
- listen to the struggles people with homosexual tendencies experience
- tell homosexual friends they’re going to hell (because we can’t know that)
- focus on your friends sexual orientation
- downplay that living the truth about love and marriage can be hard
- attend a gay marriage ceremony
- provide supplies for a gay marriage ceremony
- perform a gay marriage ceremony
- have an agenda to convert every single homosexual person to church teaching
And this is where it gets harder. If you have homosexual friends with partners, and they have kids, how do you handle your kids being friends? Depending on their age, that might be difficult to explain to your child why their friend has two mommies or daddies. Does that mean they can’t be friends? No! A parent’s choice doesn’t diminish the dignity of their child.
But it does mean we have to make careful choices as to the activities we participate in.
To be honest, there’s no clear cut answer as to what exactly we can and cannot do when it gets down to the nitty gritty. I expect it will be clarified more as the Church learns how to respond to this. But for now, we’re going to have to take this mostly on a case by case basis.
It’s hopefully easy to understand why I wouldn’t attend a gay marriage ceremony. That clearly sends a message of support for the union, which is not an option. And I’m not going to consciously encourage people to sin. But the day to day questions are harder. When these situations do come up, I highly recommend going to a trusted, wiser, friend – or even better, a priest! – if you need help discerning what to do.
There are differing opinions on what we can and cannot do, even among the Catholic school of thought. But in the end, we’re all people, regardless of our race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or lifestyle choices. Nothing can change our inherent dignity. Nothing can change the fact that we are people worthy of the utmost love and respect. People with homosexual attraction are no exception.
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!
Are there any situations that have come up in your life you’re wondering about? How did you handle them? How can we concretely show our love of a person without supporting their lifestyle?