Fact: The Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is anything but popular.
It’s something we as Catholics shy away from talking about. Maybe that’s because it makes others uncomfortable, or maybe because often we don’t truly understand it ourselves. The fact is that I can sit here all day and tell you that my stance against same-sex marriage is not born out of hatred, bigotry, or ignorance, but the majority of people would probably not believe me. When it comes down to it, this issue isn’t going to be solved in political debates. It’s far too personal.
So rather than getting into a lesson on Catholic moral teaching (though feel free to contact me if you want me to cover that later), or talking about homosexuality in the abstract (creating hypothetical people and hypothetical situations), I thought I’d refer you to an article written by someone who understands the Church’s teaching on homosexuality far better than I do, because as a Catholic who happens to be gay, he is choosing to live it.
I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same church?
When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And to spare him some confusion: Did you say ‘locker room’? What were you doing in the women’s…oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.
Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”