It's 'Pride Month' How should Catholics respond?
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June is "Pride" month, a time when those with same-sex attraction receive special recognition from businesses, government officials, and even institutions like schools and churches. As Catholics, we know same-sex relations are wrong, so how should we respond to a culture that tells us sin is okay?
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LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nobody likes being told they are behaving in a sinful manner. That's especially true when the correction comes from someone who is themselves a sinner. Since no person is impeccable, it is easy for the recipient to parry any criticism of a lifestyle that is clearly and objectively in violation of both God's law and Natural Law.
For this reason, few are willing to speak out against such behavior. And it is true that the sins of heterosexual people are likewise ubiquitous and offensive to God and the Natural Law. But at the same time, to encourage such behavior is also wrong. Just as wrong as it would be to remain silent when you see another unwittingly expose themselves to mortal danger. You have a moral imperative to shout a warning.
Before we explore how this issue should be approached, we must first review the Catechism which offers the Church's official teaching on the issue.
The Church covers this issue in its teachings on Chastity, Same-Sex Attraction, and Marriage.
Chastity is the refrain from sexual activity, especially outside of marriage. It is expected of all persons, including heterosexuals. When a person engages in a sexual act outside of marriage, they are committing a sin and are in violation of the Sixth Commandment, which prohibits adultery specifically, and according to Church teaching, also prohibits all other forms of inappropriate sexual behavior. (CCC 2338, 2344-2345)
As for same-sex attraction, the Church teaches that we do not fully understand the psychological genesis of this desire, however it is "objectively disordered." It is contrary to Natural Law. Despite this, the Church adds a critical caveat. Those with same-sex attraction must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." (CCC 2357-2358)
Those with same-sex attraction are called to chastity. (CCC 2359) This also applies to heterosexual persons and married people as well.
Finally, the Church teaches that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman. (CCC 2361) It is intended for the purpose of promoting "the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life."
But how should we be? That question remains.
From a practical perspective, we have a duty to transmit the truth of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church to all. However, we must also strive to be effective in our evangelism. To simply tell people they are engaged in sin is wholly ineffective. In fact, it is probably counter-productive. It is better to say nothing.
Before we can share the Catechism with someone, we must first forge a relationship. It must be friendly, mutually respectful, and honest. Such relationships take a long time to develop, so they require patience and effort.
At all times, we must strive to be impeccable in our own lives. It is absurd for a person to criticize sinful, same-sex behavior when they themselves are engaged in an affair with someone of the opposite sex. Both sins are mortal, and there will be no distinction made when it comes to the final disposition of the soul. Both are damned.
If we are as impeccable as possible, and if we go to Confession when we sin, pray and remain faithful to our Christian duties (e.g., pray and attend Mass), we will have the credibility to speak with some authority on the issue. This is especially true if we live according to these values, but avoid obnoxious preaching and judging --a common pitfall.
Generally, if we are loving and respectful, the person we aim to persuade will ask us about our faith or another question that demonstrates they are ready and willing to hear what we have to share about the topic. This is a privileged position and one we must appreciate. Then we have the duty to convey the truth, but lovingly, and respectfully. We must emphasize our love and our hatred of prejudice. We cannot and should not deny this person's sexuality, but we must also explain that we should not be defined by how we are gratified.
I repeat for emphasis, we should not be defined by how we are gratified. And certainly not by how we sin. Instead, we should be defined by our love of the Lord, which should be so apparent we have little need to tell others.
In this way, we satisfy our obligation to warn others of the danger they face while also expressing love and acceptance of that person. We are called to hate the sin, but love the person.
It must be understood that these rules are part of God's teaching, the teaching of the Church, and Natural Law. We cannot change these rules. Not even if every bishop of the Church, or if the Pope issued a decree, it does not matter. Humans cannot alter God's law. And since this is God's law, it must be respected and obeyed. We could not change it, even if every person on the planet wanted to.
So, the answer is this: Build a relationship of trust and respect. Live as impeccably as possible, attending Mass and praying. And if invited to share the Gospel and the truth, do so, but do so with love and respect. Be open, honest and direct, but never rude. And do not preach to anyone unless you are properly catechized and trained.
If you are not prepared, then get prepared. Read the Catechism. And above all, act with love, respect, and faithfulness to the Lord.
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