The Transformation of Christian Response to Homoerotic Love

You’d never guess it if your only knowledge of the churches and homosexuality came from Focus on the Family, NOM or California Catholic Daily in the US, or from Christian Voice or the rule-book Catholic blogs in the UK, or from breakaway groups in the Anglican communion worldwide, but we are in the midst of a dramatic, wholesale transformation of the Christian churches’ response to homoerotic relationships. This is clearly leading in the direction of full inclusion in church for queer Christians, and for evaluating couple relationships and their recognition in church on a basis of full equality. This is bound to lead in time to profound improvements in the  political battles for full equality, and in the mental health of the LGBT Christian community.

These are bold statements. Am I mistaken? Am I deluding myself? It is of course possible that this is a case of wishful thinking, that I am misreading or exaggerating the evidence.  It’s possible – but I don’t think so. The evidence is compelling, if not yet widely noted. To substantiate my argument, I want to present the facts, and their implications, in some detail. As there is too much for a single post, I begin today with just a summary, as heads of argument. I will expand on the main sections in later posts, which I have in preparation.

(For now, I have made no attempt to supply detailed substantiation or links – these will follow, as I expand later on each specific theme).

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Thoughts on Popular Revolutions: in Egypt, in South Africa – in the Church

Events in Egypt are dominating the headlines all around the world. It is always dangerous for outsiders to comment too definitively on the internal politics of foreign countries, but inevitably many of us will have thoughts of our own, and will consider the implications for their own countries.  Bill Lindsay’s reflections on this theme at Bilgrimage led to an exchange in the comments between myself and another reader, which I would like to share (and expand on) here. After some specific response to Bill’s post, I reflected on the implications for the Catholic Church:

My own reflections lie in analogy and implications for another autocratic and corrupt empire of an entirely different kind – the Holy Roman one, based in the Vatican, but with global reach and influence. Just like the Egyptian (and Tunisian) people this year, and the East Europeans, South Africans, Ukrainians and Filipinos before them, Catholics will not continue indefinitely to blithely accept control from the top, with no possibility of meaningful input from below.

Vatican control and influence in the lives of Catholics takes a fundamentally different form to the political control in Arab states, and the Catholic revolution will look different. But the principle is the same, and the revolution is most certainly coming – if it has not already begun.

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How to Right the Bishops

I have carried a few posts earlier this week about Joseph Gentolini, and his ministry of writing to the bishops. This is a strategy I would like to see far more people adopting. These are some guidelines Joseph one wrote for Dignity on how to go about it. I find these suggestions constructive and helpful. I commend them for your own serious consideration:

14-Point Summary When Writing Our Bishops

Building the Relationship

1. The goal is to develop a relationship with the Bishop, not to send a quick letter and then be done with it. Realize that this will be a long-term communication process. If you can, try and arrange a meeting with your Bishop. If not, then write him.

2. Know your purpose in writing: to influence? To vent? To Blame?

3. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. “You” statements usually come across as blaming. This is not what you want to do.

4. Do not use words that convey intense anger. This goes along with #2. You may be angry, but try to take out the “blaming” or “accusatory” language. This only puts the other on the defensive and makes it more difficult to hear your words and message.

5. Be vulnerable – you have to share yourself – your thoughts, feelings, and spirituality. Be humble and not arrogant.

6. Speak for yourself. Do not judge or assign motives or intent. Talk about how Church teachings have hurt you.

7. Whenever you have the opportunity to see the Bishop, make sure you introduce yourself again. My partner’s nieces have been confirmed and I made sure I went up to meet the Bishop again, telling him that I was working on another letter to him. Several years ago, he told me that he “enjoyed our communication through the mail.”

8. Be respectful, if only for the office the Bishop holds in the Church or, if you can’t respect the Office, respect his person.

Other Important Thoughts on Content and Prayer

9. Tell your story about being a gay or lesbian Catholic – the pain and the joys. If you are in a relationship, make sure he knows this and what it means in your life.

10. Use the Bishop’s own language and symbolism if you can. For example, in one of my letters, I used the language of the Catechism on racism to make a point on gays and justice. After Always Our Children came out, I thanked him and told him that I hoped all parishes received a copy. I also told him that it was orthodox just the way it was and urged him not to allow any changes.

11. Don’t hit all of the issues in one letter. Take them each as they come up.

12. Don’t forget to look at the Diocesan paper, even if you find it offensive. If there is an article on homosexuality or related issues, see if there is a letter you can write to give your point of view. This is another way to communicate.

13. Allow God to act – I am not responsible for the results of what I do or say – God is! Let the Spirit use you – this takes an act of faith.

14. Finally and maybe most important, pray for the Bishop and the Church and let him know that you keep him in prayer.

COPYRIGHT 2007: Joseph Gentilini, Ph.D.