14 October 2015

Remaining in church: Thoughts from a gay Catholic

I find the rhetoric of Christians around sexuality to be problematic. This is not because I disagree with the positions of my church (although I would like to re-word the statement related to homosexuality), but because I think many have been hurt, both within the church and outside of it,  by how many Christians talk about homosexuality and treat those with same-sex attractions. I think it's hard for those who face same-sex attraction to remain within the church, and I am thankful for voices that address this.

I have appreciated the voices of Wesley Hill and Eve Tushnet. I expect that some find Hill's call to celibacy to be too much of a sacrifice but Hill also provides a very strong voice for the necessity of good friendships to help those who have been pushed into celibacy.

Eve Tushnet is a slightly different voice, and perhaps a slightly more controversial one (at least from what I have read of her blog). Nonetheless, I want to share her words from a recent blog post, as I think her words recognize the church as the body of Christ and the way that we are formed to be more like Christ. One ought not to dismiss her easily. At the same time, the Church is made up of broken, sinful people, and it is not always certain, even with God's protection and care of the church, whether everything taught and practiced within the church is good. 

The following are Tushnet's words:
We need to revive the role of the “Bad Catholic.” Being a bad Catholic can be very, very good for you; it’s a sign that you accept the Church as something (someone, our Mother) outside you and bigger than you, who gives your life its structure even when you can’t/won’t live entirely within that structure. (How many tears are shed because it’s so hard to tell can’t from won’t….) Being a bad Catholic means being assessed by the Church–accepting Her view of you, even if you accept it wincingly or ironically or in confused exhaustion, “Master, to whom shall we go?“–instead of judging Her. Her judgments of you will be more merciful than yours of Her, anyway.
You only get the spiritual benefits of being a bad Catholic if you take the “bad” part seriously. If you minimize the gravity of sin you lose the reminder it brings of our dependence on God; the more trivial the sin the less humility is provoked.
There’s obviously a danger of provoking self-hatred instead of humility by talking this way, but the literary figure of the “bad Catholic” calls up compassion and identification rather than judgment in readers. Maybe you should show the same compassion to him when he’s you.
 To read more of her writing, visit her blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/evetushnet

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