The Catholic "Problem"

          Colin Israel, a gay actor, musician and writer asked, "What is your PROBLEM?" in his recently published, "A Letter To My Uncle Who Isn't Dealing Well With SCOTUS' Marriage Equality Decision" (Huffington Post Religion, July 18, 2015.)  Well, Colin, let me say this, it seems that your uncle is dealing just fine with the the SCOTUS decision.  He continues to be guided by his firm beliefs and is acting accordingly.  One's assessment of how another is dealing with a problem can be quite subjective to say the least.  (Since my ugly initial tirade on Colin Israel's Huffington Post piece could only be posted via FaceBook link, and I no longer subscribe, I have been saying prayers of thanks that I am no longer part of the FaceBook community.)

          At the heart of this "problem," as Mr. Israel calls it, is not the redefinition of marriage per se, but the redefinition of sin.  When a person presumes that his lifestyle should be accepted and validated by everyone, he is ignoring one's freedom to live by a stricter code.  To the people with firmly held religious beliefs, homosexual activity is forbidden.   If we were to substitute "lying" or "stealing" for the words "homosexual attraction" we would see how shockingly ludicrous it is to ask the deeply religious  to condone such behavior. 

          Consider this: "I knew from an early age that I was a liar.  This tendency was a part of who I was and I knew that as I was growing up.  My family said they still loved me, but they also knew they could not go along with my lying behavior.  In school things were no better.  I was bullied and beaten up for being a liar.  But now that lying is legal in all 50 states, I just wish people would get over themselves.  What is their PROBLEM?"

          The LGBT community refuses, it seems, to tolerate other points of view grounded in a particular community's religious beliefs.  We are not asking the world to tolerate some hedonsitic, satanic, or evil mindset.  Conservatives are asking for nothing more than tolerance of a conservative Christian set of traditional values.  How utterly and gallingly arrogant it is then for anyone to comment on the religious practices of a particular sect?  Would you tell the Jews that their dietary restrictions are wrong?  How about going up to some Muslims and telling them, "Well, you know, you really don't have to pray five times a day.  That's not what God would have wanted for you."  It makes no difference what you think about someone's belief system.  People can rant all day.  Unless you are the spiritual head of someone's religion, you have no right to tell them how to construct their beliefs. 

          The Navajo smoke peyote in their ceremonies and their class action was the basis for the RFRA. Suppose I approach them and tell them that they are wrong to smoke peyote?  I suspect that they will respectfully (or not) tell me to “get lost!”  You do not have to agree with what a particular sect believes, but you have to respect their beliefs under the law.  I wish someone would tell me how a person’s self-proclaimed definition of right behavior is allowed to re-define what another group believes?  Jesus himself declared that “It is not so much what goes into the mouth as what comes out of it,” when criticized for breaking Kosher laws.  And yet, who among us would dare to approach our Jewish brothers and sisters and force them to abandon their laws?  Sticking to strict doctrine is their right.

          The last two weeks I have spent a lot of time in com-boxes countering moles with names like "Catholic Thinker" and others.  Their views are anything but Catholic and their constant condemnation of Catholicism is tiresome, to be generous. There will be no getting through to them that how we behave based on our beliefs is our right.  A particular sticking point is the non-believers' mental block about the whole "aiding and abetting" thing as I like to call it.  Strict traditionalists do not attend non-sacramental weddings because it is, at least to us, a show of support for something which we hold as sinful. To support something that is sinful is also sinful.  Why?  Because the support of something sinful is a declaration before God that we renounce his teachings.

          So the wedding cake war raged on for a good six days with little inroads made.  Steven D. Greydanus produced a good piece called "Gay 'Marriage' and not Making Jesus Your Sock Puppet" in the National Catholic Register on July 10, 2015. It was about putting words into Jesus's mouth to promote or validate non-biblical ideas. Throughout all these com-boxes was the pervasive notion that traditional religious views ought to change and that, since the majority of the populace holds the modern view, everyone else should too (as if what we believe must now be subject to majority vote!)

          The only "problem" Catholics have is the lukewarm faith practices carried out by its many adherents. Critics would just about have us throw in the towel on the gay "marriage" debate because they point to all the other lapses shown (and often not condemned) by Catholics.  They feel picked-on and play the hypocrite card as they point to the widespread use of contraception, the disrespect for the Sabbath, attendance at non-sacramental marriages, co-habitation, etc, etc, etc. I almost don't blame the critics for saying that using religion for not accepting the homosexual lifestyle is just an excuse to hate.  What they don't see is that devout people, who follow their beliefs in all things, exist.  But such people surely cannot not exist in their minds, based on what we have shown to the world.

          In the end, believers who know and understand their faith don't have a "problem" understanding homosexual behavior.  The "problem" belongs to the adherents of alternative belief systems who have made it their mission to destroy traditional beliefs and the people who adhere to them.