Saturday, June 18, 2005

Straight Into Gay America: Latest News

Hello dear friends,

They're "in my face."
Jun 18, 2005
Rivers are rushing with rain water. Sun sparkles on the slopes of the Green Mountains. I ride my first 50 miler of the trip. More great conversations. Guinness Record fundamentalism and Massachusetts.
Click here for the complete story.

Please join the community discussion surrounding this tour. Make your comments public on our community discussion blog. Just click on the menu bar on our website, under LATEST NEWS. Private e-mail responses are welcome simply by replying to this e-mail. This whole tour is richer because of your support and participation. Thank You, Lars Clausen



Randi Reitan said...

Happy Father's Day to you,Lars. You should be with your dear children today ... instead you are faraway ... working to make life better for many others. The work you are doing means the world to us. We send you our love on this special day.

Anonymous said...

Love & Hostility: Jesus, the Church and the Gay community by Mario Gerada, member of the Malta Gay Rights Movement

Monday, 20 June, 2005

The bickering between the Catholic Church authorities and the gay community seems to be a never-ending story. Like several other countries across the world, Malta is at the moment dealing with issues related to sexual minorities, such as same-sex marriage.

It is understandable that a sacramental marriage between two persons of the same sex with the blessing of the Church is impossible. The issue then shifts to the social sphere: should State-recognised marriage be allowed for gay and lesbian couples? Is it morally acceptable for Catholic gays and lesbians to seek civil marriage if their mental health, growth and stability call for such?

Locally, the Malta Gay Rights Movement is bringing to the forefront this whole issue, which is certainly not easy to tackle. Trying to debate with Church authorities, or expecting that the Church change its position on gay marriage, is an impossible task and one would also be unfair to ask that of the Church. For the Catholic Church, sacramental marriage can only exist as a lifelong committed relationship, which is open to procreation, between a man and a woman.
This definition of marriage, with its Scriptural and Doctrinal foundations, cannot change. The problem that arises is what happens to those people who do not fit in this way of life. What about those who wish to live as Catholics but require the stability of a homosexual partnership?

The initial problem is that the Church and the gay community usually clash, at least in public debate. Conflict and hostility seems to be the general feeling between the two. Such hostility may cloud the real issues standing at the heart of the matter. The hurt, anxious and flesh-and-blood person tends to get lost in the muddle of arguments and counter arguments. Who is going to care for the person who happens to be gay? Who among those who have the commissioning from Christ to pasture the flock is going to shoulder the responsibility of nourishing this forlorn part of Christ's followers? Who in authority is going to legislate laws that give life and hope to gay people, rather than further burdening them with such heavy moral loads that maybe the legislators themselves are loathe to touch even with their little finger?

The authorities of the Church do not fulfill their Lord's command when they fail to pasture a part of the flock -- even if an uncomfortable and difficult part of the flock of Christ. Homosexual people in Malta are feeling the need to demand inclusion, from both society and the Catholic Church. Unfortunately some representatives (not all) of the Church talk too much about what is unacceptable for the Church, in so doing perpetuating the feelings of rejection that some gay people might experience. What is acceptable and life giving? What will give gay persons hope? Are gay Catholics barred from the graces promised by
Christ: peace, joy and life in abundance? How are they to attain these graces when their psychosexual stability, integrity and growth require an honest and sincere commitment within a stable homosexual relationship that is considered to be mortally sinful by the Church?

Both parties need to focus on common ground, on the basis of which they might approach one another. What we are talking about here is not merely Church Law but Jesus: how He perceives gay people, how He sees gay unions and what is acceptable to Him and what is not. The question that many gay men and women struggle with is how Jesus sees all this, what is really sinful and what is not. How can a gay person live a life that is acceptable to God?

What might constitute common ground for the Church and the Gay community? Love that builds a human being (whoever s/he is) is the common interest of Jesus and His Church, as well as of gay persons. We cannot debate with the Church and merely speak about its laws. The deeper yearning of each and every one of us is love, love that comes from God, love that comes from human beings, love that comes from the environment and all creation which surrounds us. Another deep need that we all experience is the need to give love, to God, to other human beings and to creation. How are gay persons to survive and lead loving lives when their only known way to love is homosexually animated?

A reading of the Gospels shows clearly that Jesus purposely went against all the prejudices that plagued Society of his time: He touched lepers; healed the servant of the pagan centurion; honoured women and children; had tax-collectors and ex-prostitutes among his chosen followers; gave pre-eminence to the poor and uneducated. Did Jesus exclude anyone in His ministry? Jesus' love is unconditional and reaches far deeper than any human being can comprehend. Would this same Jesus not love gay people and remove the social stigma they carry? Of all the stigmatized subgroups in Society freed by Jesus and Christianity would the gay subgroup be left out, and under which pretext?

Necessity does not have laws -- the old adage goes. Gays often have the emotional and psychosexual necessity to enter into a union that is recognized and blessed by Society (and the Ecclesial Society too). Why does the Catholic Church fall into inconsistency with itself when teaching that the Old Testament way of seeing Law has been overcome by Christ and Christianity, while continuing to hand down a law that prohibits gay unions? Church laws follow Christ's promise to give us life and life to the full. They are not just arbitrary rules that we must follow or be punished by hell; nor are they outdated rules that keep on passing down from one generation to the next and remain in vigor even when their necessity and meaning are long passed.

Jesus energetically criticized the Pharisees for continuing to minutely follow outmoded and outdated laws that had become meaningless but had continued to be handed down from generation to generation. Is this prohibition of stable gay unions not also an outmoded rule handed down within the Church over the generations that is now imposed meaninglessly upon gay men and women who long to follow Christ in the Catholic Church? Hasn't our vastly improved understanding of sexuality and psychology not rendered this rule useless, meaningless and cruel?

I believe it is deeply sinful of a gay person not to be responsible for his or her mental health, growth and well being. It is a grave sin of irresponsibility. How, in conscience, can a Catholic gay person who is crumbling under the guilt and fear of expressing his homosexual love continue to sit back and watch his personality disintegrate before his very eyes and still do nothing?

Every relationship is a unique and great opportunity to grow in grace.Grace builds on nature. Gay persons' nature is homosexual. How is grace to build on this nature? Homosexuals are not only attracted sexually to persons of their same sex, but their whole thinking and being are intrinsically homo. So it is not a matter of abstinence from sex. It is not possible for a homosexual to live outside of his homo-orientation in all of his dealings and being. Grace must penetrate persons at all levels of their being. An example of this is the understanding of "conversion" -- which is not a mere change of some item in a person's life, but a radical overall change of mind.
How then is grace to vivify gay personalities and transform them into fully loving persons? Is the only way a change of sexuality? Grace does not seem to work this way. Now if homosexuality will continue to be seen as a chronic condition of sin or disease, how will the Church develop a meaningful theology of grace for the homosexual person?

Gay Catholic people long for grace. Gay Catholic people cannot be asked to step out of their skin into heterosexuality. So how are Gay Catholic people to enjoy the gift of Christ, grace, love? The Church's stand that homosexual acts should be relegated to a benign confessional is pathetic and blind to the deep meaning of sexuality and grace.

Civil Society too has a duty to protect and promote the life of all of its citizens: their legal rights, property, safety and health. The Church often calls societies to task over neglect within the competencies and duties of the State. The Church needs to be on the side of homosexual persons so that the State will not neglect them, their needs, their rights, property, inheritance, safety, etc. The Church should take preferential options in favor of the poor and the marginalised. Let the Church make a preferential option for the marginalised gay community, and thus remain consistent with the role it has assumed within Society.

Will the Church include gay people, give gay people Christ's promises and defend gay men and lesbians in Society?