#badCatholic

Yesterday, I got up during the homily, in which the priest was going to address the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land, and I walked out of church.

And then when I got home, I cried because I walked out of church.

When the priest started his homily, he was completely upfront about what he was going to talk about. I froze. I thought to myself, “Okay, now what am I going to do?”

The priest suggested if we hadn’t read the dissenting opinions on the ruling, that we should. And then he brought up the First Amendment, and I’m pretty sure he was going to head into an argument about how the Supreme Court’s ruling infringed on my freedom to practice my religion. And *that’s* when I leaned over the Flora and Kate and said, “We have to go.”

It wasn’t fair, what I did. It wasn’t brave. I should have sat and heard the priest’s argument so that I could adequately state my position, whether for or against.

But all I could think about was my cousin and his husband, and how happy they looked in pictures. All I could think about was my new friend Kristen (who was in Listen to Your Mother with me) and her wife Beth, and their little girl, with whom I had just spent the bulk of the day. And I couldn’t sit and and risk hearing hateful words about these people, because I love them. And because if the priest said hateful things about them from the pulpit, it would break my heart, because I love being a Catholic.

The American bishops have declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling is a “tragic error”. That marriage is between one man and one woman, and that a human establishment can’t overrule that.

I did go and read the dissenting opinions. I understand the arguments for states’ rights, and I believe, that given time, enough people in enough states would vote to make marriage equality the law of the land. But how much time should we have given states?

The court had to order states to free slaves, allow blacks and women to vote, integrate schools and businesses. So the argument that the court overstepped its role to bring marriage equality to the states just doesn’t fly.

Sometimes people in states have to be told to do the right thing. Sorry, people in states.

As for the potential arguments that same-sex marriage impinges on my First Amendment religious liberty, that I just do not understand. I cannot see how the marriages — and divorces — of my friends and family curtails my right to go to church, receive the Eucharist, pray as I like, and preach the word of God.

++

“I say that gratuitous interference in other people’s life is bigotry. The fact that it is often religiously motivated does not make it less so. the United States is not a theocracy, and religious disapproval of harmless practices is not a proper basis for prohibiting such practices, especially if the practices are highly valued by their practitioners. … That isn’t to say that people are forbidden to oppose same-sex marriage; it is merely to remark on one of the costs of that opposition and one of the reasons to doubt that it should be permitted to express itself in a law forbidding such marriage.” — Richard Posnar, writing for Slate

++

When I got home and burst into tears in the kitchen, Dan held me. He said, laughing a little bit: “I love you, and this is what I love about you. That you struggle with this.”

He assures me that I can reject what the priest was saying and still be a good and faithful Catholic. “Jesus gave us one commandment,” he reminded me. “Love one another. That’s it. That’s what we have to do.” I have to love everyone, including that priest.

And I suppose Dan is right. I *love* my faith, I love going to church and receiving the Eucharist. It is so integral to who I am as a person. I love the creed and the message of Jesus to love and help one another, to minister to those less fortunate, to bring the light of the Word to others by my speech and by my actions.

If accepting and celebrating the fact that same-sex couples can take advantage of the legal protections and benefits of marriage makes me a bad Catholic — well, it won’t be the first thing. I’ve said before, I am a creed Catholic, and a New Testament Catholic. If Rome parses the Gospel in such a way to declare that holy matrimony, that is, sacramental marriage, is only for heterosexuals… then so be it. But the civil and legal institution of marriage, the right to join your life to the person you love above all others, to live in peace and raise children (if that is your choice) — I’m going to celebrate that, too.

++

I suppose I’ll go to confession this week, because I walked out of church and did not receive communion, and prevented my children from receiving communion. And we’ll move forward from there. As with women in ministry, I can do more good in the pew than outside the church.

Right?

Love is Love.
Love is Love.

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15 thoughts on “#badCatholic

    • I didn’t even think about it. We had missed noon mass, and had a day outing, and my parish has a 7 pm mass, so that’s what we headed to. It didn’t cross my mind to think the priest would talk about a Supreme Court decision and why we Catholics should reject it.

  1. I know this worried some people, and I do get it. But let me tell you, the thing that actually changes hearts and minds are actual gay families in the pew. Recently our tiny Episcopal church had a couple of married men join us. Even those who were bothered by them being openly gay were too polite to be rude to them, and within a few months, one was playing the organ (our previous organist had graduated from high school and went on to college at CMU – I am grateful that his parents have forgiven me). On July 17, they will be having a celebration of their marriage at their house, and I don’t think anyone from church is going to miss it, including my 85 year old father. It is knowing African Americans, or Latinos, or Jews, or whatevers, that breaks down the divisions between us.

    One of the prayers that is used in the African Anglican communion includes the words “I love the face of God I see in you”. I know those who are afraid that their faith will be changed by accepting those of non-traditional marriages, and they have been there when my mother remarried, and in some ways they will be right. The world changes and thank God, Christianity is a living faith that changes along with it. I’m sure that there are still people who cringe about remarried couples in the church too, because accepting divorce changed the way the church thought about what marriage ought to be. By accepting that people have the right to remarry, we no longer understand the words “what God has put together,let no one put asunder”in the same way. It is still an important goal, to take our commitments seriously, but we no longer feel that keeping that commitment is so important that we must keep it at any cost. Now we feel that being in a loving, faithful and respectful relationship is so important that God would understand if there is no way of making it work. We have lost something in that change, and we have gained something as well. We will lose something by changing our understanding of what a family is, and is for, but in my mind, God will always give us more than we lose.

  2. Dawn, a few things here:

    – You are NEVER obligated to sit and listen to what amounts to hate speech. The priest was directly contradicting the directive of Jesus to Love Thy Neighbor.
    – You might want to make the priest aware that by bringing up political arguments at the pulpit, he has violated the wall between church and state. Yes yes yes, every denomination/congregration is going to have its own take on the subject, and I’m sure your priest wasn’t the only one to breach the wall, but ask him if he’d like it if government agents started commenting openly on his personal policies and those of his church. I don’t think the Catholic Church really wants the Feds cracking down on things like, oh, being vocally antichoice or anti-birth control.
    – I wasn’t raised Catholic and don’t know the current forms, but I did study enough medievalism to make me a pretty informed outsider. You do not “owe” your priest–that priest–a confession. If anything, it’s the other way around. If you feel the theological obligation to go to confession and receive communion, go to another parish and speak to an unfamiliar priest.

    Just my two cents.

    Amor vincit omnia!
    Scot

    • I don’t think he was going to devolve into hate speech, but I don’t know for sure. But I also don’t think it’s fair to mix politics and religion. I don’t like when politicians do it, and I don’t like it when priests do it. I don’t even like when we sing, “God Bless America” at Mass! I just don’t feel it’s the place for patriotism.

      I am thinking of emailing this blog post to my parish.

      As far as confession, I would be going for me. I may go see my pastor, but it’s more likely I’ll go to a different church. I wish the priest who married me were state-side, because I’d go see him in a red-hot minute. He would talk me off this ledge — in a Scottish burr, no less.

      Thank you for your two cents. I appreciate all the respectful feedback I’ve gotten on this topic. It has steadied me immensely.

  3. Dawn, as you know I am a conservative. I have opened by eyes and am proud that the court ruled this way. I have gay relatives that are married. My niece who past talked about gay marriage and was one that opened by eyes wide. Love is love. I believe that Jesus is love. My Lutheran church is very open to gays and I talked to my pastor about it also.

    Always enjoy reading your posts.
    Lou

    • Thank you, Lou. I do think as more and more people encounter gay and lesbian people and couples in their lives, they will start to understand they are not depraved, immoral people that homophobes — religious or otherwise — have painted them to be. They want the same things every human wants: to love and be love, to be treated with respect and dignity, to pursue their own lives in peace and happiness. And I want that for my family and friends, all of them, too.

  4. Thank you for writing this – and thank you for tweeting about it. It ended up inspiring me to write a blog post of my own on this subject – from a slightly different perspective – and it was really incredible. I only just realized when checking in for PFB2015 the connection! This is beautiful – thank you, thank you, thank you. You may think you’re a bad Catholic (I hope not anymore!), but I think you sound like an amazing person.

  5. I went to mass with my extremely conservative parents that Sunday. The priest brought it up and I sat there terrified….my parents are loudly and vehemently anti-gay. The priest talked in circles about it and ended up not really saying anything (and his accent was so strong that I don’t think they caught anything he was saying). My parents didn’t know the news as it occurred on our way to the ocean, and they don’t believe in the internet.

    You have said everything I feel, and thank you for that. I truly wish more people were true Catholics like you are.

  6. Your post made me tear up. As someone who just…cannot comprehend not wanting more love in this world, or what have you, I just appreciate the heart you have invested in this matter. BOTH matters. I just really appreciate you. ❤

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