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!

Gay Marriage: How can love say no?

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage. 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

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? You probably know that the Catholic Church teaches that gay marriage is wrong. To kick off this series, I thought it would be good to talk about why.

Before a Catholic wedding, the couple is asked:

“(Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?”

“Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?”

“Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”

The couple then vows to take the other person “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Those are pretty big promises if you ask me.

These vows mean that the couple has promised to freely live in unity with the other person through the highs and lows of life while honoring each other and welcoming children (the result of their union) until their marriage bond is broken by one of them dying.

The male and female body, which are made for union with each other, have a language of their own. In the total giving of themselves to each other, they are saying “I am completely yours. You are completely mine. We are one now, and possess a bond forever that is unbreakable.” Naturally, children are a result (barring any struggle with infertility). And this unity is made concrete through the promises made to each other by taking marriage vows.

This is why the Catholic Church cannot, does not, and will not, recognize the union of two people of the same gender as marriage: it is simply impossible.

The female body was not made for union with another female body, and the same for men. It is naturally impossible. This is self evident. It’s not a rule made up by old white guys. It’s biology. The self-giving type of love demanded in a marriage from the Catholic perspective is impossible with two people of the same gender.

Well, so what?

If two people love each other, who cares if they’re able to have kids, right? It’s a legitimate question. But in response, I have to ask: Is the feelings of two consenting adults the only prerequisite to marriage?

The questions couples are asked before the wedding aren’t about their feelings. And that’s for a reason.

It may sounds horribly unromantic, but marriage through the eyes of the Catholic Church isn’t just about living a blissfully sexy life with your chosen partner.

It’s about getting each other to heaven.

THAT is why gay marriage cannot, does not, and will never exist within the Catholic Church.

It’s not because we don’t want people to be in love. It’s because love is about so much more than pleasure.

Now don’t get me wrong. Homosexual couples seeking to have a recognized union aren’t necessarily seeking it solely for pleasure. I’m sure many of them value marriage. And it’s absolutely true that many heterosexual couples out there, even within the Catholic school of thought, seek marriage solely for pleasure’s sake.

That doesn’t make either case right.

The Catholic Church, in her wisdom that is so very hard to understand sometimes, has taught many hard truths since the beginning in regards to love and marriage. And it’s all because life isn’t about getting what we want.

As someone who is writing from a religious understanding, I have to include Jesus’ words that if anyone wants to follow him, we must take up our crosses and follow him. We all desire things that won’t help us get to heaven, things that are disordered. And that’s why we have to pick up the struggles we have in life and run after the only one who can fulfill our heart’s desires.

Maybe your struggle is with homosexual attraction. Maybe it’s an eating disorder. Poor body image. Addiction to porn. Lack of motivation. Loss of loved ones. Debilitating illnesses.

But encountering these struggles and being told “no” to the easy way out doesn’t mean we’re wrong or that your life isn’t worth living. It’s just harder than expected.

You may still be wondering how in the world we can consider this position loving. How can telling someone “no” to a desire so integral to them be okay? How dare we do such a thing?

I’d just like to remind you that the Catholic Church doesn’t single out those with homosexual attraction. She says “no” to sex outside of marriage, divorce, pornography, cohabitation, and contraception. All of this is to help order our love most toward what is good, beautiful and true. This is why anything outside the truth the Catholic Church stands behind is “disordered”, per se, ordered toward something other than what we were made for – another topic for another post.

All of this to say, we love and stand behind the goodness of every human person. We all make mistakes. We all mess up. And gay marriage is one of those things the Church is rather clear about being a mistake. That’s because love hurts sometimes.

Mary put it beautifully when she said recently:

Yes, sometimes love hurts. We don’t go seeking pain in the name of love, but when the pain inevitably comes, it doesn’t mean it’s not real love. It just means that the time to witness to the depth of your love has arrived.

The depth of the love of the Catholic Church says that we don’t always give people what they want. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but love always wins. Stay tuned so we can chat about more topics within the issue!

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

Gay Marriage How Can Love Say No A Drop in the Ocean

To Life,

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Images via Hartwig HKD and netzanette on Flickr.

Further reading: Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons

The Third Way – how the Catholic Church proposes people with homosexual tendencies approach life

Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine – why one young, gay, man is in love with the Catholic faith

Why I don’t want a woman on a dollar bill

Like many of my fellow human beings, I strongly believe in the equal value of men and women. But I don’t think a woman should be put on a dollar bill just because she’s a woman.

Why I don't want a woman on a dollar bill

There’s nothing wrong with a woman being on a bill. There’s nothing wrong with men being on bills. It makes sense that the historical figures presently on bills are the major figures of their day (ie. men). It would be neat, of course, to recognize the contributions women have made to our history by putting them on a dollar bill, but here’s why I wouldn’t want it to happen by taking men off bills:

I don’t want any sort of benefit given to me just because I’m a woman. And I don’t think any woman deserves special treatment for the sole reason of her being female.

Now don’t get me wrong. My beliefs about the roles of men and women are quite traditional. In fact, I appreciate when guys open the door and act like gentlemen. I’ve come to expect that of guys, because I expect guys to be decent. Please guys, don’t stop that!

What I’m saying is that the motivation matters. If you open the door because you think I am a delicate flower incapable of opening it myself, you’ve got another thing coming. However, if you open it out of respect for another human being in a gentlemen-ly way, thank you. That is awesome, and I congratulate you on being a considerate guy. I consider any guy who opens a door to be a gentlemen until or unless proven otherwise. And I would expect nothing less than a polite response from my fellow ladies. It’s how we return a kind gesture in a considerate way.

Many people think it’s considerate and awesome to replace a guy with a woman on a dollar bill. I think it’s dumb to put a woman there just because she’s a woman. If she did something awesome and deserves recognition, great. If not, there’s no reason to hand the spot to her solely because she’s a woman.

Many people think women are underrepresented in high-profile careers. I think it’s dumb to say a woman should have a certain job just because she’s a woman. If she’s a good candidate who meets the job requirements, great. If not, there’s no reason to hand the job to her solely because she’s a woman.

Many people lament how we need more women serving our country in the military. I think it’s dumb that standards would be lessened to allow more women to serve who are not at the same level as other members of the military. If  she is capable of the physical feats of her fellow soldiers, great. If not, there’s no reason to hand her that position solely because she’s a woman.

I wouldn’t want just a woman put on a dollar bill. Go ahead, put a historical figure, a person who made a contribution to our country. But don’t degrade women by just sticking someone on there for the heck of it because golly gee, we need someone who’s female!

Fulton Sheen said “equality is wrong when it reduces the woman to a poor imitation of a man.”

Women are not poor imitations of men. We are not the next best thing. We are freaking awesome, unique, creatures with complementary but not identical characteristics to men.

You may think we need women in certain positions in the world or on dollar bills, but consider this: do you think women need to be in those places just to prove they can do the same things as men? Or could we just step back and recognize that women don’t have to do the same things as men for us to recognize that we have equal value?

Think about it.

To Life,

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P.P.S. Good to see other people are thinking similarly!

Choosing Awesome

With all this talk about becoming a saint lately, I figured I better actually get started on that. It’s hard to know where to start when you decide to really chuck bad habits out the window and develop better ones.

But the important thing is to just get started.

These last couple weeks I’ve started by taking a few incremental steps to clear my head and get priorities straight. Here’s a taste of what that’s looked like:

1. Silence in the car going to/from work.

This isn’t to take joy out of life by not turning on music, but to give myself time to not be entertained, to actually think or just be. Yes, sometimes I turn into my own radio. But mostly I am quiet and just enjoy the scenery. I am capable of giving up 20 minutes of being distracted each day.

2. No laptop after 9pm.

Right now there are no excuses for not getting enough sleep. I realized that reading articles (or other “constructive” ventures) was a big part of my staying up late, so BAM. Get rid of the cause. I am capable of doing things beside being on the internet late at night.

3. Exercise consistently.

Okay, do you know how awesome it is to be sore? It makes me feel like a boss to know I worked hard. And it’s good for my health, go figure. I don’t work out to get a bikini body because I wouldn’t ever wear one, but I do work out to be healthy and strong. I am capable of devoting 30+ minutes of most days to exercising.

4. Get up earlier.

I was chatting with a few friends, and we all were talking about wanting to get up earlier. So guess what? We decided to get up earlier. Go figure! We text motivational quotes on weekday mornings. And I have a daily meditation book my goal is to whip out every morning. Even though I’ve fallen back asleep while reading it a couple times, I am capable of getting up (and staying up) at a reasonably early hour.

That’s not everything, but enough for now.

What’s made each of these possible is to get over whatever silly excuses and just do it. It’s true, that’s not terribly motivational. Who in the world wants to put in the effort? Who wants to force themselves to do good things instead of what’s easy?

Yeah, not many people.

It’s true for me too. Binge watching a tv show is way easier than flipping on a workout DVD and getting down to business. Lounging on the couch reading Buzzfeed articles and eating cookies is way easier than using internet time intentionally.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves, don’t those things leave us terribly unsatisfied?

I am satisfied at the end of the day when I can look back and know I tried, that I gave my all. And that only happens when I make an intentional effort – when I choose awesome. That is something each of us is capable of doing.

You are the only thing standing between who you are now and who you want to be

So, let’s do it. What are you going to do to take that first step and change things you want to change? Those little things add up, my friend! Tell me, and let’s help each other out!

Today, let’s choose awesome.

To Life,

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