(In response to “j.a.m. in the comments thread to Fr Martin’s original post):
j.a.m., I must admit I have become sorry for you. I can’t imagine how sad it must be for you to live a life where you stand in fear of a God who demands that you give up happiness so that you can get pie in the sky when you die.
You say that giving up sin is the cost of salvation. And yet Jesus came to set us free not just from sin, but also from fear, doubt and death. The freedom that Jesus offers us is what will make us truly ourselves, truly happy. If you like to quote popes, conceder what Benedict XVI said: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great.”
You see, j.a.m., for some disciples of Jesus the whole idea of giving up sin as some sort of sacrifice is foreign to us. To us it is a joy to live the Gospel. It makes us more alive, it gives us purpose, it frees us from the slavery of the world. The disciple does not secretly desire sin, grimly forgoing it so as to be “saved.” Salvation is not achieved through one’s own grit and determination; that’s what we call Pelagianism. And we have a word for the worldview that sees life as a trial and a test, through which one passes only by giving up what he or she truly desires to do: Jansenism.
When we find who we are meant to be, we begin to become our true selves, as God has made us. This is why denial is not an option for the gay person. We are on a journey toward becoming who God means us to be, and along the way we learn that everything must be integrated into this primordial call of the Father, even our sexuality. We can no longer leave that out of the equation than we can the name he has given us from before the foundation of the world.
And so we are left with two ways of approaching life: the fearful, resentful way of life where we grudgingly give up sins we really want to do, and resent those who do not; or the way of the Gospel, where we accept who we are, hope in the love of God and seek to learn how sin is actually not as attractive as others make it out to be, and really just complicates our lives unnecessarily.
Part of the hopeful view of life is learning to think for ourselves and not being afraid of what we don’t know. We are enlivened when we hear of others’ life experiences, we are fascinated by science, we are engaged in society. That is a living faith. A dead faith closes off avenues of learning that do not fit our agenda, it clings to words and parses them, it seeks to set human experience in stone rather than flesh.
j.a.m., I do not accuse you of having adopted the harsh and stony view of human experience, but some of the things you say make me sad. I am concerned that you may perhaps look at life and the Gospel this way. And that makes me feel sorry for you. I am sad when you reduce the compassion of Jesus to “Patch Adams.” How tragic for you, that divine compassion can be so easily ridiculed. Perhaps you are one of those who refer to others as “bleeding hearts. ” And yet the Sacred Heart is a bleeding heart.
“I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s not just after we die, but here on Earth as well. And if you live your life with resentment for all the “sinful” things you “gave up” for heaven, then that is a bleak life indeed.