The post I don’t want to write: The Synod and Same Sex Marriage

I don’t want to write this post.  I really, really don’t, and I’ve even thought of about a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t.  The lamest reason (yet perhaps the most difficult to get over) is that it’s going to make me resoundingly unpopular among quite a few of you.  The strongest reason I’ve yet to come up with so far is that this has been written about so much over the last few days that I don’t need to add another voice to the din.

It doesn’t escape my notice, however, that many of my friends and readers are non-Catholics, and a good number more are non-practicing Catholics, so perhaps you haven’t seen all the stuff I’ve seen.  Perhaps this will be the only Catholic post on the subject that you’ll read.  Against my better judgement, I’m going to dive in and take a shot at this.  If I do a good job, it’s all the Holy Spirit.  If I fail spectacularly, well, then you can give me aaaallllll the credit.

You may have heard about a little something in Rome called the Synod on the Family.  It’s basically a big meeting of the leaders of the Catholic Church. (Clarification: it’s an agenda-setting meeting for the actual Synod which will take place next fall. Hey.  No one has ever accused the Catholic Church of moving too fast.) Today a bunch of news sources came out predicting “sweeping changes” that will promote “progress” within the Church’s teachings on same sex marriage.

Let me back up a second and explain my location on the spectrum of Catholic social teaching, and Catholicism in general.  Some people label themselves Progressive Catholics, others as Conservative Catholics.  The best way to explain me is that I am a Magisterium (pope-and-bishops) Catholic.  What does that mean?  That means on the issues that are doctrinal (yes, even the really tough ones like contraception and same sex marriage) I adhere to the Church’s teachings because ultimately I trust that the Holy Spirit guides our Catholic Church.  (Oh, and surprisingly to many people, not everything in life is doctrinal, so we Catholics are free to disagree about a whole lot of things and still be in line with the Church.)

Why do I trust that the Holy Spirit guides our Church?  Oh, goodness.  The list goes on and on.  It begins with the fact that Jesus established it and promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, and then gave us Peter as our first Papa.  #2 on the list: let’s be honest, if the Holy Spirit wasn’t protecting this house, the sinful sinners (read: members) would have burned it to the ground years centuries ago.  And finally #3: even though our Church was, at times throughout history, led into darkness by the very Church leaders entrusted with protecting and guiding it, there has not been one infallible doctrine that has ever been reversed.  Not one.  Not ever.  In other words, no crazy pope ever made a crazy proclamation, stamped it infallible, and then had it reversed by the next sane and holy guy who was elected to the pontificate.  All those really corrupt popes that you hear about?  Most of them never got around to making infallible doctrines, and for the few who did, it was perhaps their one shining moment of non-idiocy.  Holy Spirit, yo.

All that is to explain that I trust the Magisterium as I always have.  I know that what the bishops at the Synod are trying to do (delineate practices and disciplines in which the Catholic Church can care for disenfranchised Catholics: divorced, homosexual, etc) is not going to change Church doctrine.  So everyone take a deep breath and I’m going to say this really fast like rippingoffabandaid: The Catholic Church will not, now or ever, approve of same sex marriage.  It will continue to love people of all kinds, those of homosexual orientation as much as those of heterosexual orientation.  But it will not reverse its teachings on what a family is, or how sexuality can best be used to strengthen us and bring us closer to God.

If what I just wrote made you angry or disappointed, bear with me for a just a couple more paragraphs, and please please please click on the links below.

The Church does not say any of this because it’s mean and bigoted.  The Church speaks about sexuality within the context of our whole person, that is, within the context of our eternal life. The language the Church uses, far from being hateful, is always and only about sacrificial love.  Any act which will draw us closer to God is affirmed by the Church, while any act which will draw us away from God is to be avoided.  Sexual acts which lovingly unite a married couple and which allow for the possibility of children fall under the first category.  Pretty much every other sexual act falls under the latter.

The main reason I remain a Catholic as an adult (aside from the Eucharist, because hello, corporeal Jesus whenever I need Him? Winning.) is because I trust the Catholic Church to lead me to heaven.  I trust that Jesus meant it when He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  I trust it as much now under Pope Francis as I did under Pope Benedict, and as much as I did under Pope John Paul II.  And I’ll trust it under the next guy, too.  Is it always easy to be Catholic?  No.  In fact, it’s hardly ever easy.  There are times when I want to crawl under a rock rather than have one more discussion about all of the many many unpopular topics.  But a few years back I asked God to help me trust His Church if that’s what I was supposed to do, and slowly the pieces fell into place.  The “antiquated” doctrines and practices that once pushed me away are now the reason that I stay.  I asked for the gift of trust, and what I got in return was a richness in faith that cannot be adequately described in a blog post.  The wisdom of this Church, you guys.  It practically pours out of the Bible, and off the page of the Catechism.

And my final thought is this: if you’re Catholic (or considering Catholicism) and you’re frustrated by anything I’ve said, I beg of you to read the Church’s teachings and the Church’s doctrines and the Church leaders on this or any other subject.  There isn’t an ounce of hatred in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and there isn’t an ounce of bigotry either.  But don’t take my measly word for it. Read it yourself, and see what the Church actually has to say about the plan God has for our lives.  It is breathtaking in its beauty, and as consistent a philosophy/theology as can be found anywhere.

Links that say it much better than I can:

Catechism of the Catholic Church (free online searchable resource)

Humane Vitae, the encyclical (letter) from Pope Paul VI which handles the issue of contraception.

Vatican News Radio transcripts of the midterm report of the Synod on the Family

Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee is killing it this month by writing easy, readable explanations of Catholic teachings on sexuality.  A few of her recent humdingers:

Why No Gay Marriage?

Hey Pope Francis, it’s the 21st century, what’s up with contraception?

V atican Roulette and IVF

Comments

  1. Micaela, you nailed it. And said it much more honestly and eloquently than I ever could. I love reading about your Catholic life (I’m a cradle Catholic and a revert) but it’s also inspiring to me when you don’t hide from the difficult issues and you put yourself out there for your faith.

    I remember when you talked about losing a friend over an issue on facebook. I don’t lose any friends because I don’t speak up. I’m *afraid* of the hard parts, you know? But I don’t mean to say that its a good thing about your friend or that the end result should point to something that difficult. I just mean that I’m too timid and I need to stand up for my faith when it’s called for. But at the same time to speak it in love. It can be a fine line, a hard balance. I hope this all made sense!

    I’m a Magisterium Catholic, too. 😉

  2. very well said!
    Theresa@OrdinaryLovely recently posted…Kitchen Stuff that Keeps Me Close to FabulousMy Profile

  3. Good post! I was thinking about this earlier and I think the biggest roadblock is that many people tend to DEFINE themselves by their actions and they are totally unable to understand how a person or a church could love them and respect them as a person while “judging the action” but NOT “judging the person.” And, it’s not just in the matter of homosexuality but in just about every thing people do. People think that if someone loves and respects them then they MUST approve and love and respect of EVERYTHING they do.
    Amelia @ One Catholic Mama recently posted…Liebster, Bloghop and What I Wore SundayMy Profile

  4. This was great. I’ve had some difficult, difficult conversations with family members trying to express just this: this is my Church, I profess the doctrines as true, nowhere in any of that am I called to love someone who disagrees less. In fact, I am called to love them MORE!
    Annery recently posted…Poetry in October: Verse 3My Profile

  5. Oh dear. A voice of reason when it seems everyone has lost their ever lovin’ mind. Thank you for your humble words. I’m with you in the lonely Center of Magisterium Catholics…. you know, a member of the One Holy Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church? I’m frustrated to tears with the reactionaries claiming “earthquake” and the liberals touting “progress”. So many people just want to be heard and run their touchdown in for the win of their brand of Catholicism. Who are we to believe that American Catholicism is the source and summit of all that is good and holy?! My heart is at rest after reading this post. I hope it is shared far and wide. <3
    Kara recently posted…Gifting: Ideas for Little GirlsMy Profile

  6. You said it well Michela! And thanks for writing it even though it is a difficult topic to tackle in a single post. I think it is beautiful that you asked for trust, and seem to have received it heartily!
    God bless

  7. I’ve taken to shuddering and averting my eyes any time I see “Synod” in a headline now. The relatio made the front page of the Houston Chronicle this morning. But I’m glad I read this one!
    Catherine recently posted…Spooky StorybooksMy Profile

  8. My friend, we were apparently riding the same wave. I, too, was apprehensive to post my thoughts on this subject matter, but the Spirit moved me to buck up and just do it. Your post is honest and filled with charity. Thanks for speaking up for Truth.
    Tara Brelinsky recently posted…Homosexuals Have Gifts to Offer: Why that Headline Isn’t NewsworthyMy Profile

  9. God bless you. You are a talented writer, Micaela, thank you for sharing the gift with us all.

  10. Love this article – love you writing style–“All those really corrupt popes that you hear about? Most of them never got around to making infallible doctrines, and for the few who did, it was perhaps their one shining moment of non-idiocy. Holy Spirit, yo.” Haha. Love it. Thanks. I am sharing this.

    Mark
    Mark Connolly recently posted…CommunionMy Profile

  11. Well said and well written.

  12. I have the gift of thinking what you wrote and you obviously have the great gift of writing down my exact thoughts! 🙂 Sharing this! Thank you for sharing this well said post! God bless!
    Tracy Bua Smith recently posted…Worldless Wednesday: My Son’s Block Football Stadium and Nominations for the Homeschool Blog Awards!My Profile

  13. ROCK ON!!! Loved this post! Many thanks!

  14. O.My.G.O.S.H…do I love you for this?!? Absolutely! Thank you for your honesty, and the reminder of keeping perspective. Holy Spirit has your back, and I’ve got your back.

  15. What a breath of fresh air in the smog of blogdom! Thank you for writing a truly Catholic piece.
    Birgit J recently posted…ProLife Designs by Birgit – How Can We Make a Difference?My Profile

  16. I appreciated reading this article. I think I big misconception is that you cannot be loved by fellow religious people or god if you are gay. “The Catholic Church… will continue to love people of all kinds, those of homosexual orientation as much as those of heterosexual orientation.” What I didn’t agree with is that another common conception which is sex in gay relationships. Why can it not be just as much of an expression of love as it is between a heterosexual couple? How can anyone say that it’s not. Just because my girlfriend and I cannot produce children that are a biological part of both of us, that by no means means that sex is an activity and not an expression of love. At the end of the day if people ever only had sex to make children, the world would be absolutely overrun with human beings. I love god and I am certain that he loves me and is proud of the choices that I have made in my life. The bible says this and that, but really all it really comes down to is loving one another, doing good for yourself and for the world. Nothing else. No politics, no critiscim. God does not give us the right to judge.

    The Catholic Church may not ever accept homosexuals, but God accepts me. Certain catholics themselves will also accept me. I don’t go to a catholic because I’m catholic. I go because I love God, and I love that time with him. Simple.

    • Ace,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I sense a deep love of God in your words, and also a sense of being judged. Let me clarify that I do not judge you. The only Person that knows your heart is God. I’m just here as a sister on the journey. I hope we can encourage each other that way. Please read everything I write with a tone of love, because I sincerely mean it to be so.

      In regards to your comment about homosexual sex not being an expression of love, I would not presume to say that. If you say that you love your girlfriend, I’ll take your word for it. However, the Church teaches us that sex is only partially about love. It is also about being open to procreation. The two cannot be separated. Rape takes the love out of sex, but can still produce a baby: sex which can never produce a baby may have love, but it is still lacking a fundamental ingredient.

      I encourage you to read up more on what the Church teaches. The Church is our mother and wants to lead us to heaven. The rules She sets forth are only for our benefit, no matter how hard they seem. (And yes, sometimes they seem terribly, terribly difficult.) Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio are pretty short documents that tell why the Church believes what it does about our sexuality. Also, the organization Courage is an organization for Catholics with same sex attraction. Perhaps you might be interested in reading Steve Gershom’s blog. He’s a gay man who has chosen to live a celibate lifestyle in accordance with the teachings of our Church.

      I do hope you stay with our Catholic faith. It’s the surest way to heaven, and the rest of the faithful want you here with us.

  17. This post was excellent and beautiful. Thank you!

  18. So well said. I particularly liked your paragraph on why you’re so confident that the Holy Spirit still leads the Church. I do, and have always, thought the Holy Spirit leads the Church. But I’d never before thought of actually providing reasons! What a revelation! (Obviously, I take far too much for granted.) What great points, all of them.
    Julie recently posted…What Matters To HimMy Profile

  19. Beautiful post. Saw it on a friend’s FB page. God Bless you!

  20. love this micaela. glad you wrote it. Emailing to people

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