Monday, February 3, 2014

What God Hath Joined Together

I wrote this last week. I didn’t post it because I thought it might offend some people who have time to waste and waste it on what I write here (see my post on being "Wishy–Washy"). I have edited it to remove most of what I wrote about my Mom because some people might construe what I wrote about her as denigrating, and I would never want to be seen as posting anything negative about her. So, here it is, almost all of it.

Fundamentalist Christians, especially including fundamentalist Catholics like Ratzinger and JP2, almost ruined my life. They did it by referring over and over again to homosexuality as, among other things, an "intrinsically disordered" state and an "abomination." I love my Catholic faith. I have loved it at least since I was 3 years old. It has given me most of what is best in my life. Its challenges, ideals, heroes, art, music, and traditions are the things that have enriched, elevated, and given sense to my life. I almost threw all that good stuff away because of these so–called believers in Jesus who not only condemn the sin but enjoy condemning the sinner. I do not accept the interpretation of Sacred Scripture that tells me who I am is God’s mistake. I do not accept the Christians who believe they can say horrible things publicly about gay people without consequence. I do not believe that having to respect gay people is being "politically correct." I do not accept that any believer in Jesus Christ has the right, under the rubric of "religious freedom," to condemn me or any other LGBT person.

The same people who despise me see nothing wrong with full acceptance of divorce among Christian couples or the acceptance of those Christians who are divorced. This acceptance is given in direct disobedience to a very specific teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19/1–8:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Jesus never spoke about gay people or gay sex. Never. He did, however, very clearly speak about the morality of divorce. Most Christian Churches, including most fundamentalist sects, accept the fact of divorce and welcome divorced people into their fellowship, even allowing divorced people (mostly divorced men) to be ordained.

So here I am, having absorbed the hatred of me and my sexuality, angry at that hatred, believing that Sacred Scripture simply does not address the modern understanding of gay people and gay sexuality, having to put up with this basic moral inconsistency, in some cases hypocrisy, from people who believe that Scripture condemns gay people and gay sex.

I raised this inconsistency of acceptance a few years back with a good friend of mine who was a fundamentalist Baptist (unerring truth of every word of Scripture, creationism, total lack of acceptance of gay sexuality). He also was divorced and remarried. His answer was to give me a copy of a book popular, apparently, among divorced fundamentalists, Hard Sayings of Jesus by F. F. Bruce (IVP Academic, 1983). I would love to be able to write a new chapter for that book about Jesus’s hard words about homosexuality. The problem, of course, is that Jesus didn’t have any hard words for gay people or gay sex; he had no words of any kind on those issues.

I believe in divorce. My parents never divorced through 35 years of misery that harmed all four of us in our family. My mother, God rest her, thought about it constantly but was steered away from the idea by priests whom she consulted, by the belief of her family, and by economic concerns. She, my brother, and I would have been better off had she divorced my father early in their marriage.  My father would have been miserable either way—he was miserable in his marriage and he would have been miserable divorced—so I don’t include him in my "what–if" equation.

I am thankful to God that God has allowed me to keep my faith. My prayer always is that the harsh people who believe in God and God’s Son will admit to the fallibility of their understanding and belief and end their persecution of LGBT people, especially young LGBT people.