In the wake of the decision today by World Vision to allow gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be hired, Patheos' newest Catholic blogger, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry weighs in with a piece guaranteed to make one think:
Same-sex marriage is contrary to Christianity’s traditional understanding of gender and sexuality. Ok. I support the right of religious employers to fire employees for any reason, but as we all know (right?) supporting a right to something is not the same thing as condoning that thing. Ok.
Let me ask you something: how many adulterers work for Christian institutions? The answer has to be: more than you think. How many ordained who have broken their vows of chastity? How many employees who have had abortions? How many Southern Baptists have garish McMansions? At what point did we decide that working alongside sinners was a no-no? Where in the heck did we get that idea from the Gospel?
(“Oh, but this is different! This causes scandal!” Does it? First of all, I think our habitual understanding of “scandal” needs a serious rethink. And second of all, how is this more of a cause of scandal than the other things I’ve name-checked?)
This is where we invoke the certain Gospel passages, that Jesus recruited sinners, and ate with sinners, and came for sinners, and rescued the woman taken in adultery. This has become so habitual that the other side is primed to ignore it by reflex, and the first side merely uses it as an excuse for meta-pharisaism.
“Jesus tells the woman taken in adultery to ‘Go and sin no more’!” Ok. But wait, the Gospel doesn’t tell us if she actually repents or not. Imagine she doesn’t. Jesus, being the Son of God and all, knows it. Do we think he would’ve seen the men lining up to stone that poor woman and would’ve thought “Good. She had it coming.”
“C’mon! Refusing to hire same-sex ‘married’ people isn’t the same thing as stoning a woman!” In that society it was! It was the normal, legal response. Today we have different legal and cultural means of using social coercion to punish sin, and Jesus clearly indicts them all (see: Girard’s scapegoat mechanism). Only God can judge. And your social punishments for sin are just excuses for you to set yourselves up as idols, as little gods who get to separate the sheep from the goats.
I mean, let’s be a little Kantian here. Imagine every business is a “Christian” business (and that’s the end goal, isn’t it?) and has this policy. So when you’re in a committed same-sex relationship, the outcome is that you…don’t…work? Anywhere? Never mind the cruelty, how is this supposed to get anyone to repent of anything?
There's more and it's compelling.
My thoughts on this are evolving. I guess I should "blame" Pope Francis and his "softer" approach to evangelization but really, I think the "blame" lies with the Church and her teachings, teachings I think Mr. Gobry is articulating with clarity, teachings I'm embracing more each day though some days more eagerly than others.
When I think of Christ today, I think of God with open arms. I think of mercy. I think of forgiveness. I think of grace.
I can imagine that doesn't square with the notion that many have of Catholicism. What with all the rituals and rules, all that bureaucracy and hierarchical authority. Yes, it's something paradoxical and mysterious but frankly, quite Catholic.
The bottom line for me on the point of this post boils down to whether I'm going to believe in the dignity of every created being. This is where I am trying hard not so much to draw the line myself but to respect the line drawn by the Church.
Do I have issues with gay marriage, with militant homosexuality, with the fascist tendencies of the so called gay lobby? Yes. Hell yes.
But if I'm embracing the noble and true goal of attempting to draw people to a God whose arms are open, to a God of mercy, forgiveness and grace, how successful will that attempt be if all I do is oppose, resist, disapprove and fight?
If I had the power, I'd draw the line more than likely in places where they don't need drawing. For me, the Church has drawn the line and Mr. Gobry is shining a light on it.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?