The world is not our safe space

You probably heard about the men who recently intervened between a man and two women he was verbally “racially harassing” (one of the women was black, the other was wearing a hijab). Three men intervened and two ended up being killed. The other was injured.

In response, Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler has been addressing free speech on his Facebook page. He addressed the people behind two unrelated upcoming events (Trump Free Speech Rally and March Against Sharia):

I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled . . . I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland. There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now.

Now hopefully any reasonable person would agree that harassment, murder, bigotry, racism, and hatred are all terrible things. There’s no place for those anywhere. I have no idea what the purpose of those two events is, or if they plan to be peaceful. A more recent posting in reference to the event says:

We need to reckon with the fact that racist attitudes lead to racist words, and that racist words lead to violence. And we need to decide what we’re going to do about it.

What are we going to do about it? There’s this growing idea that to prevent violence, we have to prevent people from holding and expressing certain ideas and attitudes. Now, we can agree that certain things are always wrong and terrible to even think.

But what do we do when the thought police go after people with opposing views who are reasonable and not murderers? When we get to ideas and attitudes, who gets to decide which ones we’re allowed to have?

In comment sections, articles, and everywhere on social media, I see people saying it’s “hate speech” to believe in traditional marriage or be against abortion. To some, it’s not just a personal or religious belief. Those are beliefs that personally offend other people, and they want to get rid of that uncomfortable reality by getting rid of your idea.

I think it says a lot about us when we’ve become so sensitive to differing viewpoints that we want to remove those people from our communities instead of attempting to live in peaceful disagreement.

This is not about murder and racism and violent, terrible crimes. This is about the thought police trying to appease people who disagree by silencing the people they disagree with.

I’d like to ask such individuals when we started thinking the whole world was our safe space.

Because it’s not.

When we walk out the doors or connect to the internet or have contact with another human being, we are going to encounter people who think differently than us. Of course we all think some people hold ridiculous opinions and beliefs. I’m Catholic, so I think people who are Atheist are wrong about God. I think people who are pro-choice are wrong about abortion. I think people against the right to bear arms are wrong about gun control. I think Scientology is creepy and that some animal rights activists need to chill.

But you know what?

Here in America, we are free to express and live out our beliefs, no matter how wrong we may be (as long as it doesn’t hurt people). None of us are entitled to lives without having our ideas questioned or opposed.

If you are after an eternal safe space, I’d recommend never getting on the internet or leaving your home, because there probably isn’t anyone you agree with 100%. We can’t deny that and try to live in a bubble by ostracizing people we think are wrong or ruining their livelihood.

We can disagree. We should shut crime down. But free speech is something I hold dear as an American, and infringement on that has got to go. If my ideas bother you, great. I’m glad that you have an idea too. Let’s talk and see if we can figure out what’s right. Or if it doesn’t matter. Ideas exist to be debated and researched and challenged and embraced. We can’t do that if we ignore or purposefully stifle ideas different than our own.

To Life,

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7 Quick Takes, Vol. 62: Late term abortion and doing hard things

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It’s been a while since abortion made me cry. Perhaps it’s because I talk about it often. But this week (after Hillary Clinton defended partial birth abortion) has brought up stories that I simply cannot ignore. This is a hard topic, but one I think we need to talk openly and honestly about. I’m linking up with Kelly and sharing seven points about this topic.

1. Contrary to what liberal media will tell you, the majority of Americans think abortion in the last trimester should be illegal. Please note that I did not link to a biased pro-life source. This is Gallup. And I think their numbers represent the American people more accurately than Hillary Clinton or Planned Parenthood. Most people are simply not okay with abortion being free for all without limitations.

2. Let’s be very clear: late term abortions do happen in America. Yes, it’s a small percentage of all abortions. But there are abortion doctors who are very proud of this work. Just watch the documentary After Tiller. So, you might say: what actually happens during a late term abortion? In some cases, they inject digoxin into the amniotic fluid so the baby will overdose and die. Then they induce labor or surgically remove the baby. Other times, the baby will be partially delivered. They will deliver feet first and sever the spinal cord while the head is still inside and remove brain tissue through the hole to ensure success. This is what partial birth abortion is. This method, as far as we know, is rarely used (except for people like Gosnell).

3. These procedures are never necessary to save the life of the mother. If a mother is faced with a crisis situation which puts her life at risk by continuing pregnancy (preeclampsia or eclampsia, for example), doctors will deliver the baby early, probably by c-section, and do everything they can to save both the mother and child. When we’re talking about late term abortion, we’re talking about when the baby is beyond the viability point. This means even if chances are slim, they have a chance of living if they’re born early.

4. Most stories I’m seeing about parents choosing late term abortion happened because the baby had a problematic diagnosis. This, I think, is what got to me the most this week. It’s dangerous territory to deny someone a chance at life simply because their life would be hard. Yes, sometimes you know a baby will only live a short time after birth. But sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes serious problems can be fixed. And if they can’t? A short life is still worth living. A short life can change hearts forever. Here’s a beautiful example. We honor heroes who go through hard things, and I think parents who lose their children or raise kids with severe medical issues are some of the most powerful quiet heroes we know.

5. There are options for palliative care when babies are given an adverse diagnosis. Ending their life is not the only option. When a baby is given an adverse diagnosis, it is the medical professional’s job to do everything possible for their patient. And thankfully, there are high quality NICU’s around the country who will. In the event that there’s no way to prolong life for babies with grave medical conditions, there are ministries like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep who help parents treasure the few moments they have together.

6. If you or someone you know has been involved in an abortion or a difficult prenatal diagnosis, I want you to know there are resources out there for you. I’ve heard good things about Project Rachel and Bethesda Healing Ministry for post-abortion healing. I’ve also heard of Faith’s Lodge being an incredible place for families who have lost children. You can also call 1-800-712-4357 or text “HELPLINE” to 313131 to find a center near you that might be able to help find local resources.

7. Do you know of other resources that might be helpful? I just want the world to know there’s hope in such difficult circumstances. And I also want people to know that even though these situations are some people’s worst nightmares, we’re capable of getting stronger and living through our worst fears. And every person, no matter how long or short their life is, can make an impact on this world.

To Life,

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Theology of the {unmarried} body

If you’ve been around Catholic circles in the last 20 years, you might have heard some serious fangirling over St. John Paul II. He was allegedly the “coolest saint ever“. He even fished, wore hipster glasses at some point, acted, and oh, gave us Theology of the Body.

Theology of the Unmarried Body - Not Alone Series

If you haven’t heard of it before, “Theology of the Body” (TOB) started as a series of talks that was later compiled into a book . . . which has now been explained so normal people can understand it (even Cosmopolitan). JPII used these talks to reflect on and teach us the purpose of our lives. No big deal, right? You know, it’s just our place in the cosmos and the answer to the question we all ask: “Why do I exist?”

Intrigued? Good. Me too. So I read this introduction and my mind was blown. The main point?

God created us in his image so we can reflect his love in our lives and ultimately be united to him in heaven.

His love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. (I mean, obviously the Trinity isn’t going to be breaking up anytime soon.)

He created us to learn to love like he does.

He created us male and female to show us that we can reflect the love of the Trinity, a communion of loving persons, as evidenced by the way our bodies were designed. He created us to give of ourselves unconditionally and accept others unconditionally, just like he does, doing our best to see the dignity of each other made in the image of God.

This communion of loving persons many people are called to is the family. But some people misunderstand TOB and think it only applies to marriage. This is false, because TOB teaches us about everyone’s call to love. Some people are called to love through marriage and family life. Others through a religious community or consecrated single life. This post isn’t about marriage and relationships. It’s about how we live out this call to holiness, to give of ourselves unconditionally, as people who are unmarried.

Essentially, TOB teaches us to love others by giving instead of grasping, by seeking to see people more like God does: with the unique dignity of being made in his image as a gift to the world. That’s possible, and dare I say, demanded of us as Christians at all stages in life.

JPII teaches us that “man . . . cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”. This central message is insanely simple, but radical at the same time: Give. It’s implications are countless.

For people who aren’t bound by marriage or religious vows to continually give of themselves to the same person/group of people, we have the unique privilege of giving ourselves more fully to the people we encounter everyday.

“The married person puts their spouse first,” said Janet Smith. “The celibate puts God first. When you’re single, the next person who crosses your path is the person you put first. That’s who Christ is asking you to give yourself to. That’s how you love him.”

What might this look like in our lives?

1. Give the gift of your time to a cause you believe in.

  • Cultivate a spirit of selfless giving by volunteering to build homes, go on mission trips, serve at a soup kitchen, cuddle babies at your local NICU, babysit for tired parents . . . figure out where your passions and schedule meet with other people’s needs.

2. Give the gift of your skills and talents to people who can use them.

  • Good at math? Tutor. Love to paint? Host a painting & wine night for friends who need a little community. Master chef? Make meals for people recovering from a big life event. Our abilities are meant to be shared freely and generously.

3. Give the gift of your prayers. Always.

  • Sometimes the most we can do is pray. What I do for this is post on social media every Sunday asking people to comment/message/like the status and I’ll remember their intentions throughout the week. I write these intentions down in a journal (when I’m on top of it) and refer to it throughout the week in prayer. When I’m on top of my game enough to offer things up for people, that happens too. My goal is to visit those intentions each night. This has been a huge way to not only connect with people, but offer more of my time and effort for them.

4. Die to yourself (aka. don’t always treat yo’self).

  • For example, we could bring the brownies to share at work instead of finishing them on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Fasting every once in a while might be your jam, or offering other things for people. It sure doesn’t fit with pop culture, but it teaches us to be more selfless which is what TOB is all about.

5. Push yourself to see the dignity in everyone.

  • That coworker who gets on your nerves? She’s made in God’s image. Crazy driver who flips you off? God’s image. It’s easier sometimes to see the dignity in the homeless and poor than the people we live with or are closest to. So before you entertain nasty thoughts about people or snap back to a rude comment, STOP and challenge yourself to see their dignity as a child of God. They are a unique and unrepeatable gift to the world, even when they aren’t acting like it.

6. Be grateful.

  • You know what’s hard? Being grateful. There’s so much we have to have and do. Mmkay. You seriously don’t need to have the newest iPhone. Relax and count your blessings. After reading this book, I started writing down things I was grateful for each day. It’s made such a difference. It teaches me to see the gifts in the little things. Seriously, try it out. Notice the little things. Unless you’re a naked starving hobo living in a cardboard box, you’ve got at least a few things to thank God for.

7. Go the extra mile.

  • As unmarried people, we can give more of our time than pretty much anybody else. Yes, there are jobs and commitments. Life is busy. But life is always busy. And we have time for things when we make time for them. So make time for loving people! Go out of your way to have coffee with a friend, start a book club, or organize a local event. Remember that even when people don’t seem like they deserve it, do something nice for them anyway. It will change your life (and theirs!).

That’s it. TOB is about finding our purpose in life through selflessly loving. It’s harder than it sounds. But I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t all keep fangirling over this if it wasn’t worth it. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s in those moments when you think of other people, do thoughtful things, and respect the dignity of people unconditionally that we are most fulfilled. Not to mention that’s when we’re best living our mission to love.

In These Beautiful Bones, Emily Stimpson says:

“We’re all made to be a gift. And we become that gift by using our bodies to serve, teach, comfort, correct, feed, clothe, shelter, heal, encourage, lead, suffer, sacrifice, and pray for others, helping them through it all to become more the men and women God calls them to be.”

And my main man Fulton Sheen (as always) has a few words on the topic of when we meet Jesus face to face:

“He will look at our hands to see if they have been scarred from giving, our feet to see the calluses from travel to preach His Gospel, and our side to see if we have loved to a point of sacrifice. Woe to us who come down from Calvary with hands unscarred and white.”

Ever thought of TOB like this? How can you apply it to you life? Tell me what you think by commenting below or linking up with the Not Alone Series here!

To hands scarred from giving,

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Transgender feelings don’t trump my safety

As someone who tries to keep up on current events, much of what I read makes me stop and question the state of our world. I used to routinely express my disgust by posting snarky Facebook posts and ranting about whatever the latest story was. But that takes away my peace. That was lots of fun, but I’m trying hard to not do that anymore.

I still get mad about the stories . . .

The bills that are passed (or not).

The misrepresentations of my faith.

I still rant in my head, or sometimes with friends. But I generally try to not post rants online because I don’t think it helps people understand my beliefs. I don’t think it opens the door to conversation. And I know complaining about things I can’t change isn’t helpful.

But that’s led to me not addressing a lot of current events. And I’m not okay with that. We’re supposed to be in the world. Not of it, completely. But as a Catholic wanting to spice things up and show people the awesomeness I’ve found in my faith, I can’t do that by keeping quiet.

So things are going to change! The plan is to use this space to share how I approach different issues in light of my Catholic faith. I want to think through how to respond to the issues we’re facing. Will you join me? Ask questions that come up, and always feel free to contact me if you’re not comfortable commenting publicly.

Today I’m talking about allowing people who claim to identify as opposite the gender they were born as use the bathroom of the gender they choose.

Transgender feelings don't trump my safety

Many states have “gotten with the times” and passed bills that allow people who are genetically male or female from birth to use whichever designated public restroom they choose. If they were born genetically male, they can use restrooms reserved for women. If they were born genetically female, they can use the restrooms reserved for men. They just have to “identify” as the opposite gender. I’ve also seen this apply to locker rooms and changing rooms.

To some people these are duh bills.

But I just don’t buy it.

Why? Because I don’t think people’s feeling are what we should base laws on.

I was born a man but now identify as a woman. It hurts my feelings if you don’t let me use the women’s locker/changing/bathroom.

Their feelings may legitimately be hurt. And it’s not that I don’t care about their feelings. But do we stop to ask, “hey, what is this person actually going through?” What does it even mean to “identify” as the opposite gender? We don’t have extensive research on the science of a person who claims to be transgender. So why should we acquiesce to a single group of people’s desires while potentially putting everyone else at risk?

We can’t blindly accept this without seriously considering the consequences.

For example, I recommend reading What really happens when transgender person uses locker room. In this case, a man walked into the women’s locker room at a public pool to change. There were many women and girls inside, in various stages of undress (naturally because that’s what happens in a locker room). The man said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here”. But because he did not state that he identified as a woman, he was asked to leave. HOWEVER, “the man would not have been asked to leave if he had simply verbally identified as a woman“.

That is all it would take for any man to be let into a women’s locker room (in states where this is the law). Please let that sink in.

This paragraph struck me as well:

“But would the man’s statement have made the previously “alarmed” individuals suddenly comfortable with his presence? Would the man’s body have looked any different to the young girls as he undressed had he merely professed to be a woman? Would such a statement eliminate the dignitary, emotional, and psychological harms a woman suffers by having her unclothed body viewed by a man against her will? Of course not.”

This powerful piece from a rape victim tells us:

“[it’s] nothing short of negligent to instate policies that elevate the emotional comfort of a relative few over the physical safety of a large group of vulnerable people.”

And that’s where I’m at. I don’t think this conversation has to get to a philosophical or religious level, because it seems so obvious the abuse that can result from it. Do I have the perfect solution? No. Maybe we should think about making unisex restrooms. And we definitely need to have research done on what it means to be “transgender”. Because right now anyone can decide to identify as whatever gender they want. And that doesn’t seem like a reasonable foundation for our laws.

How do you answer this? What is your thought process?

To Life,

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20 Tips when considering abortion

Dear women considering abortion,

I know there’s a lot going through your mind and heart right now. And I know there are lots of opinions out there about what you should do. When Madeleine Roe recently shared 20 Tips for Your First Abortion, she offered ways for you to (at times lightheartedly) cope with the reality of going through an abortion procedure. Here are my own tips, in no particular order, for you:20 Tips When Considering an Abortion by Laura @ A Drop in the Ocean1. Know that you are not alone. If your support system of family and friends have deserted you, know that there are workers and volunteers around the country who dedicate their time to walking with women during this critical time. You can connect with a center where there are people to support you by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

2. There are many sources of information about abortion and pregnancy, but not all sources are created equal. You can view scientific-based information regarding your health and prenatal development at the Endowment for Human Development. Here are side effects and risks of abortion from the American Pregnancy Association, something to consider for any surgical procedure. Allow yourself to explore the reality of what is happening inside you, and what abortion does. Here are different types of procedures explained by the American Pregnancy Association.

3. You have time to be fully informed and educated decision. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you must make a decision quickly. Nobody should coerce you into making a decision. You have a lot of information to process, and many details to work out. You need time to talk to different people and look at the risks of each option.

4. Speaking of options, you have three: parenting, adoption, or abortion. Not all options are equal. Take a critical look and the pros and cons and consequences each option has for you and your baby. Parenting gives a child the gift of their biological parents, but sometimes the situation at home means it’s not the best environment for raising a child. In that case, making the courageous and sacrificial decision to give a child the gift of an adoptive family might be something to look into. You can reach out to organizations like this one to learn more about adoption.

5. Adoption might be the last thing on your mind and that’s okay. Any decision you make at this point will be hard on some level. And making the decision of adoption is not always the best decision for everyone. I know it might feel like a betrayal to your child to carry them and then give them to an adoptive family to love and raise. So know that I look up to biological moms who make the courageous and sacrificial choice of adoption. They give their babies an intact family when their situation makes parenting unrealistic. How courageous is that?

6. People do care about you, and this choice matters. Choosing what to do when you’re pregnant in a difficult situation takes time and support from other people. It will affect many lives, not just yours. So take time to lean on supportive people in your life, whether it’s your family or local people you found from #1.

7. Take care of yourself. Your life has drastically changed since getting that positive test. Whether this was planned or not, you’re now a mother! Contrary to what Madeleine suggested, binge drinking is not a great way to cope. Take some deep breaths and connect with people who can help. A massage might be a better option. Or treat yourself to a girl’s day and go get your nails done. Take a walk. Start a journal. Find a way to process your emotions in a constructive way instead of masking them.

8. Don’t assume the worst of your friends who are against abortion. Some of them might be jerks about it. If they are, they should read this to better understand what you could be going through. But anyone who truly cares about you and your baby will be there for you no matter what.

9. When weighing the prospect of raising a child during a difficult time, remember the joys of being a parent. Instead of just thinking about the snotty noses, costs of schooling, lost sleep, and inevitable back talk, remember the smiles and laughter of children. Think of holding your very own baby in your arms – the one you made sacrifices for to bring into the world. What an honor to be given this opportunity! So don’t don’t forget the costs. But also remember the benefits. Remember it’s worth it. Every person deserves to be loved in the way only you as a mother can love this baby.

10. Be honest with yourself and your support system. Parenting might seem ridiculously unrealistic to you. Say that. You might be scared as heck about adoption. Say that. You might only be considering abortion because it seems like your only option. That’s why it’s a good thing you have time to talk with other people and come to a conclusion. Get to the heart of why you’re considering abortion, and let’s see if there’s another way to solve that.

11. Science and technology are so advanced that you can actually see what’s going on inside you. But I bet you already knew that, because you’re smart. A heartbeat starts at around 21 days after conception, shortly after you found out you were pregnant. Isn’t science truly stunning?! Check out the Endowment for Human Development for an interactive prenatal development timeline.

12. In some states, you are required to be given the option of seeing your ultrasound. This is not a political agenda being forced at you, but science. There is a living embryo or fetus (depending on your stage of pregnancy) inside of you, and you deserve to know the facts. In fact, those are just scientific names referring to the little human that started off as a single cell. All that will change about them is their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency on you.

13. Pay attention to the little things. Does seeing babies inflict feelings of guilt or shame? Are you noticing families while you are out? There are so many emotions going on right now. Recognize them and own them. Little things matter as well as the big picture.

14. Some ordinary things will never feel the same. Whether it’s the metal bowl Madeleine mentioned or something else, many women will experience symptoms of PTSD after going through the sometimes scarring or traumatic experience of having an abortion. And that’s not just my opinion. Lots of women have shared their stories. You can go through all sorts of testimonies here.

15. Think long-term. Often times when parenting seems scary, it’s because your resources or support systems are limited. But depending on where you live, there should be resources to alleviate any difficulty you’re experiencing. Find a place by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

16. The fact that we have articles telling us abortion is normal tells us it’s not normal. We don’t have articles giving us 20 tips for a hit and run or tips for your first rape. We intuitively know that some things don’t need to be justified.

17. Some abortion clinics could endanger your health. A couple summers ago, Planned Parenthood protested a bill that would make their clinics (where they perform surgical abortions) meet the same medical standards of ambulatory surgical centers. They didn’t want to be legally compelled to meet medical and safety standards. If I was having surgery, I’d want to be at a safe clinic. I don’t know about you.

18. If you end up going to an abortion clinic, there might be people on the sidewalk to support you. There might be rude people who yell at you too (and I would ignore them if I were you). But I’m talking about the nice ones. They have information about the best local resources. If I were there, I would have a flower for you and give you this letter I wrote.

19. This is a roller coaster. Stifling your emotions or refusing to confront the hardness of your situation won’t help. Allow your tears to fall. It’s okay to be mad and scared. It’s okay to not have everything perfectly figured out. That’s the beauty of people who love you. They’re there no matter what.

20. You deserve better than abortion. I’ve seen too many women hurt by abortion to consider for a moment that it’s just another routine medical procedure. You deserve to be loved by people who will see you through this. And you can do this. An unexpected pregnancy is that: unexpected. But people have gotten through the hardest of times and thrived. And you can too. Because you’re stronger than you think.

You are braver than you believe

And if you haven’t found a support system yet, you can always contact me. I am more than happy to walk with you for those first scary steps and help you find that support system. You deserve only the best.

To Life,

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When trust changes everything

When TRUST changes everything by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

It’s kind of funny how trust changes everything.

I’ve been thinking about the future. A lot. But what’s new? With senior comps (ie. “what you do instead of a thesis”, “a test of everything you’ve learned for your degree”, or “no pressure”) later this month and graduation impending, saying the future is on my mind would be an understatement.

As many soon-to-be-graduates would say, it would be SO nice to have everything set in place right now.

But I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not for lack of trying. And I’m kind of dying to know what’s in store.

Being in this position is somewhat terrifying as someone who tries to have my life put together. My heart rate does sometimes go up a little bit thinking about OH MY GOSH WILL IT ALL WORK OUT?!?! And yes, I’d like to ask God to swing WIDE open the door he’s guiding me to instead of leaving multiple ones cracked open just a little.

I’d like that clarity, please and thank you.

But clarity is not my prayer right now. Because in reality, I don’t think we often know for certain exactly what we’re supposed to do. We might have an inkling. Sometimes a choice does seem obvious. But mostly life is about learning to take the next step when God calls us to, even if we’re blindfolded. It’s choosing to step out on the tightrope, even when we know we could fall.

It’s learning to trust that no matter what happens, God’s got our backs.

This Lent, I’m not giving up coffee or Facebook. But one of the things I am doing is reading through Rediscovering Jesus. Because that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. I need to remind myself that there is a purpose in life, and that purpose is to get to heaven. If my life isn’t ordered toward that, then other stuff doesn’t matter.

One line that stuck out to me this morning was “God is always waiting on us. Sometimes we may think we are waiting for him, but that is never true.” BOOM.

So this Lent, I’m not thinking about all the things I’m waiting for (okay, trying not to do that), or what I can get out of it, or keeping a checklist of every single thing you must do to make it the best Lent ever and be a good Catholic. I’m trying to focus on the transformation of Lent, better conforming my life to God’s will, and asking myself what things I’m still holding on to that I need to let go. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?

Kathryn’s reflection this morning is much of what’s in my own mind. Lent isn’t about the checklist and seeing just how penitent we can force ourselves to be.  It’s about reminding ourselves of our need for God and changing our lives to reflect that. As the first reading tells us today:

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart”

That’s what I’m up to: trying to return my heart to the one who created it. I’m praying for trust, and for all the intentions I’ve been given – that we all would learn to find that peace of surrender. That we would remember the beauty of our faith, of God who created us, and of this season. If you have any intentions I can remember, comment below or contact me. How has your Lent started out today?

Here’s to a new beginning.

To Life,

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6 non-religious reasons to oppose gay marriage

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2post 3, and post 4). 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!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

 

While my faith is very important to me, not everyone shares my beliefs. I think it’s important in this series to include non-religious reasons why legalizing gay marriage might not be the best idea.

Here are 6 reasons to think about:

1. In moving away from traditional families, we move away from traditional values.

Duh, that’s the whole point, right? Some people count this as progress. And of course we should always learn and become better and develop as a world. But in moving away from traditional families, we’ve become relativistic. People say it just doesn’t matter what anyone does. But anything that encourages a departure from absolute truth is problematic.

2.  There are two different genders for some reason, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s to propagate the species. 

I guess this is good news for people who think the world is overpopulated. I mean, more gay marriage, less people born, right? Well, many countries, including the U.S. are below a replacement level of fertility rate. That means we’re going to have more and more older people with less and less younger people to care for them. That doesn’t sound like a good economy.

3. STD’s are more prevalent among those who are in sexual relationships with a person of the same gender. 

Ever wonder why they ask you when you’re donating blood whether you’ve been in a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender? According to the CDC, “75% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States” are among men in sexual relationships with other men. These men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer. This doesn’t sound like a normal and healthy lifestyle.

4. Children are entitled to a mother and a father.

Yes, two people of the same gender are capable of raising a child. But the balance between the differences mothers and fathers provide is not replaceable with two people of the same gender. Some people say it’s not important to have both, that it doesn’t matter. But two parents of the same gender cannot provide the same environment of a traditional family structure.

5. It purposefully deprives children of their biological parents.

Adoption is a beautiful and courageous thing to do. But when two people of the same gender want a child who is not adopted, they have to use a donor. There are too many articles to link here that say what a problem egg and sperm donation is. It’s a hugely unregulated industry I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage people to be part of. As people get older, adopted children or children conceived using donors often want to know their biological parents. Often times nowadays, it’s impossible with anonymous donors.

6. We do not have enough evidence to say that children growing up with homosexual parents do not have any problems down the road.

According to one study, children of homosexual parents:

-Are more likely to be currently cohabiting
-Are almost 4 times more likely to be currently on public assistance
-Are more than 3 times more likely to be unemployed
-Are nearly 4 times more likely to identify as something other than entirely heterosexual
-Are 3 times as likely to have had an affair while married or cohabiting
-Are 10 times more likely to have been “touched sexually by a parent or other adult caregiver.”

That’s just one study. We need a heap more research to know what the long-lasting repercussions are before we say all families are equal.

The fact is that besides philosophical and theological reasoning, there are plenty of reasons why a sweeping decision to legalize gay marriage is highly problematic. I hope you’ll continue to follow along as we wrap up this series looking at a few more topics!

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

Be sure to check out post 1, post 2post 3, and post 4 if you haven’t already!

To Life,

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Image via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Tips for proceeding in the battle for marriage

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2, and post 3). 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!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

 

In the immediate aftermath of the recent decision by the supreme court, I was mostly relieved to see that people I know weren’t being haters on social media. As time went on, though, some things came up that kind of made me cringe.

Exhibit A: Comparing gay people to unborn babies (or vice versa, or comparing the issue to abortion at all)

Exhibit B: Whining about being a victim

Exhibit C: Trying to prove your point with a fancy graphic.

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Here are some pointers for people who stand behind traditional marriage on how to not be a crazy person moving forward:

1. Be a witness to the truth about love and marriage. It’s not all butterflies and unicorns, but it’s always worth it. Unless people can see that through you, posting articles and saying things isn’t going to help very much. Actions speak louder than words.

2. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. Literally. You’re representing a lot of people, so represent well! I recommend reading a lot, paying attention to laws and studies, and becoming well versed in the why behind our beliefs.

3. Defy the stereotype of bigot and homophobe by . . . not being a bigot or homophobe. Love people, even if they disagree. And if people call you names for just believing in traditional marriage, respond gracefully. Nobody can make you a bigot unless you’re actually being one.

4. Remain open to conversation. And make sure that when conversations come up, you lovingly offer what might be a unique perspective.

5. Listen to people’s concerns on both sides, and don’t discount them. Everyone needs to be heard, valued, and responded to lovingly.

6. Have more of a response than JESUS for why you believe what you do. Sure, you could quote the Bible, but how relevant is that to people who don’t share your Christian beliefs? This goes back to #1 and the need to be educated. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow!

7. Keep the hope alive. In the end, no person or legal institution can change the sacrament of marriage, or the biology of men and women. Our society is changing. The way traditional marriage is treated is changing. But have hope, and don’t despair! Know that God is all about second chances. No one is beyond His mercy and love. Let no one be beyond ours.

If you can’t already tell, I think the most important thing on both sides of this debate is to love our neighbors – even when we disagree. That’s why this series is called “Love Wins”.

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

To Life,

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Image via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Further reading:

5 Ways to Respond to the Supreme Court’s Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

 

The truth about tolerance

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2). 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!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

 

People on both sides of the gay marriage debate are guilty of being mean. Plain and simple. Not everyone has been mean about it, but many people (including myself) have probably been guilty of airing an insensitive comment or two.

But this post isn’t about mean people. It’s about learning how to live around people who we disagree with on controversial, emotionally charged, issues. It’s about ordinary people confronted with a tough issue.

Ordinary people don’t usually want people to be mean to them. Nor do they go around looking for opportunities to be mean. However, even people who do their best to NOT say nasty things are accused of being intolerant bigot haters of love these days….or something along those lines. I’m talking mostly about supporters of traditional marriage. But on the flip side, some supporters of gay marriage have been subject to untrue accusations as well.

We all mostly want the world to be harmonious place, right? So it makes sense that we get mad at people who mess up our perfect plan for the world.

But we can and do broadcast our opinions and beliefs on worldwide platforms. It kind of makes me scratch my head when people start crying that someone disagrees with them after taking a stand for something. And it makes me sad that people are personally offended when a view other than their own is shared.

The thing is, putting your opinion out there is not inherently mean.

Having an opinion or belief does not mean you automatically hate people who don’t share your belief.

In the aftermath of the recent supreme court decision, I saw a friend post a lovely response article. And someone else literally commented “You are intolerant”. Like, what? Is having an opinion intolerant?

Or am I just expected to keep my mouth shut when I believe in something? 

And what does tolerance even mean?

Many people use it to mean “accepting behaviors you disagree with as as good for other people, even if you think they’re wrong”. It’s used as a synonym for agreement these days. If I don’t agree with a gay marriage supporter’s view, I’m a bigot, right? Well, no.

Case in point:

“We’ve redefined tolerance to mean never disagreeing. The real definition of tolerance is first disagreeing and then putting up with the people you disagree with. You have to disagree to start being tolerant.”

I have my beliefs because they are true to the best of my knowledge. And you know what? We all have different beliefs. We don’t all agree. And that’s part of life. We have to put up with it.  To strive to live together regardless of differing beliefs is what tolerance is all about. It’s not about agreeing with each other.

So here we are with different beliefs. I think you’re wrong about some things. You probably think I’m wrong about lots of things.

We don’t have to agree with each other.

But what we are obligated to do is to love each other anyway.

Every single person, regardless of beliefs, is worthy of respect and love. Nothing can change that. No matter what. Even when we have polar opposite beliefs. Our behavior should go beyond tolerance, even. I should not only tolerate you. I should love you. I want to love you, even if it’s hard. I want to be able to know and love people who are different than me, because love wins.

I’m not going to agree with everyone on everything, but love isn’t about agreeing. It’s about accepting a person as a creature with inherent dignity that nothing can change. I don’t have to accept your beliefs to love you. And I don’t have to share your position on gay marriage to be friends.

Tolerance is about doing your best to live in peace with people you are at odds with. I truly hope as our country moves forward that we can do a better job on ALL sides of keeping the peace.

We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post on distinguishing between a person and an issue. Until then:

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

To Life,

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Images via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Further reading:

Disagreement is not discrimination

I love you, but I disagree with your lifestyle. What now?

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!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

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?

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

DON’T

  • 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 FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

I love you, but I disagree with your lifestyle, now what A Drop in the Ocean

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?

To Life,

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Images via Hartwig HKD and Nicolas Alejandro on Flickr.

Further reading:

Catholic, Gay, and Doing fine

Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message To Parents Of Homosexual Children And Suggestions For Pastoral Ministers

Courage, an international ministry of the Catholic Church for persons with same-sex attraction – find a chapter near you!