Coming out as Grace: Patrick Chen, on the “Out Christ”

In the second instalment of his long essay on Christology, sin and grace at “Jesus in Love Blog”, the theologian Patrick Chen discusses Christ’s incarnation as God “coming out” to the world. This is an idea I first came across in Chris Glaser’s “Coming out As Sacrament“, and which Chen takes as his starting point:

The Out Christ arises out of the reality that God reveals Godself most fully in the person of Jesus Christ.  In other words, God “comes out of the closet” in the person of Jesus Christ; it is only through the incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we understand the true nature of God (for example, God’s solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed).  Indeed, the notion of the Out Christ as the revelation of God is supported by Jesus Christ’s description in the Fourth Gospel as the logos or Word of God.

Chris Glaser, the gay theologian and Metropolitan Community Church minister, has written about the Out Christ in his book Coming Out as Sacrament.  In that book, Glaser describes Jesus Christ as nothing less than God’s very own coming out to humanity:  “The story of the New Testament is that God comes out of the closet of heaven and out of the religious system of time to reveal Godself in the person of Jesus the Christ.”

“Sermon on the Mount” (from Ecce Homo) by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

Read the rest of this entry »

“Speaking the Truth” on Catholic LGBT Inclusion

Regular readers here will know that the infamous CDF document on “homosexuals”, Homosexualitatis Problema (better known as then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Hallowe’en letter), is not my favourite Church document.  Nevertheless, it does include some important features, which many people in the Catholic Church too easily forget.

In its closing paragraphs, the document reminds us of the words of Scripture: “Speak the truth in love”, and “The truth shall set you free”. It is disgraceful that the document itself ignores its own advice here, but no matter: the advice itself is sound, and there are an increasing number of Catholics, lay and clerical, who are making up for the CDF omission, by speaking the truth in love on LGBT inclusion in church. The latest to do so is  Jody Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), in an address October 21 at King’s University-College, a Catholic institution based at the University of Western Ontario. In doing so, he reminded us of the other neglected portion of the CDF letter – the exhortation to treat “homosexual” persons with dignity, compassion and respect.

I regret that the only report I have been able to find of Huckaby’s address is from Lifesite News (but see the update below*), which is not usually renowned for its sympathy with progressive causes in general, or LGBT Catholics in particular. Nevertheless, they quote some sections verbatim, which are worth taking on board:

Read the rest of this entry »

A Gay Catholic at Georgetown U.

All gay and lesbian Catholics have difficult decisions to take on dealing with the apparent contradictions between Vatican doctrine and their inner identity. Some find an easy path to reconciling the two, some simply deny the doctrine and walk away from the Church – and some deny their sexuality. Jon Soucy was one of this last group when he was a student at Georgetown U.

As he describes it, he threw himself into several religions activities, in the Knights of Columbus and other activities, becoming an unofficial “defender of the faith”.  Conversely, for fear of being thought of as gay, he stayed well clear of any courses or activities that dealt with gay issues, even deriding those who participated in them.

While at Georgetown, I took it upon myself to openly mock Professor Ingebretsen’s class Unspeakable Lives: Gay and Lesbian Narrative, while secretly longing to take the course. I criticized GU Pride in The Hoya, while, in my heart of hearts, wishing I could gather the courage to go to a meeting. And, in countless conversations over the years, I disparaged gay people and defended my Church’s harmful teachings on homosexuality.

The result – loneliness and misery.

I lived this lie for many years, “bearing my cross” and committing myself to a life of loneliness and despair. The loneliness is hard to describe to straight people. It’s the loneliness of seeing straight couples together, and knowing you’ll never know the love of another human being because it’s forbidden. It’s the loneliness of seeing your best friends pair off with their girlfriends to leave you alone to contemplate your solitude. It’s the loneliness of knowing that, no matter how much fun you may be having with your friends today, you know the day will come when they’ll be married, and you’ll be feeling sorry for yourself because you have no love in your life and never will.

Now, looking back, he says this was a mistake. He now says he wishes he had spent less time defending the faith, and more time. being true to himself. Even the Vatican, in its infamous Hallowe’en Letter, reminds us of the Scriptural injunction to “Speak the truth in love.” This is what he has now, belatedly done.

Allow me to introduce myself. I graduated from the College in 1999 with a major in government (really, a major in Father Schall — the best teacher I have ever had. If you haven’t taken his classes, DO SO!)

Some of you may notice the crucifixes on the walls in most of Georgetown’s classrooms. I was the President of the Georgetown University Committee for Crucifixes in the Classroom. I was Grand Knight of the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus. I was the Treasurer of the Philodemic Society. I was the Georgetown Academy’s Man of the Year. I was one of Georgetown’s unofficial Defenders of the Faith. I was — and am — a gay man.

Not that I ever told anybody I was gay at Georgetown, except for a couple of my dearest friends, and then only in hushed tones, as if confessing to a crime. How could a Defender of the Faith be gay? Perhaps I became a Defender of the Faith because I was terrified of my sexuality. Who knows?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of most of the activities I was involved in at GU. I met great people in the Knights, the Crucifix Committee and the Philodemic. I am still in close contact with my two best friends from Georgetown and visit the Hilltop once or twice a year. I just wish I’d spent less time saving Georgetown’s Catholic identity and more time trying to come to terms with my own identity as a gay man.

Read Jon Soucy’s full story at The Hoya (Georgetown University Newspaper of Record) for March 04, 2003 .