Monday, March 14, 2011

Why I Won't be Catholic - One Reason At Least

In the spirit of Lent, this Monday I'm going to continue on with some reflection on compassion, specifically towards gay people.

Generally, if I don't have anything new to say about a topic I refuse to write about it on here, but I need to write about homosexuality a little and I'm sure I won't say anything too new.

The other day when I talked about going to the Catholic church and how I was finding comfort in that, I worried that I was going to get some backlash because of the church's stance against homosexuality (among other things). I lost a follower, but who knows why that was and I was surprised I didn't get any angry emails. Still, I feel the need to clarify.

I disagree with the way most religions condemn homosexuality. All of my life I have been accepting and loving towards gay people and I have defended their rights. Recently though, I realized that I was using the wrong argument to defend them and without even meaning to, I was implying that homosexuality might still be wrong. I had a huge epiphany about this and my epiphany has helped me to become even more compassionate to gay people.

I grew up around gay people because my mother and aunt were friends with lots of gay men. Until I was eleven, I didn't realize that women could be gay too because I didn't know any lesbians. While we had some openly gay men in Millpond, we didn't seem to have any lesbians. I have no idea why that was. When I was eleven, my mom got a lesbian friend. Her name was CJ and she was a security guard and looked like a chunky teenage boy. When my mom explained to me that CJ was a lesbian and told me what that was it wasn't any big deal. I was just like, ok, well women can like women too just like men can like men. How about that. It just wasn't a major issue for me because I had always been around gay people and found them to be just like everyone else, though perhaps more fun. I attribute that to the fact that my mom and aunt were friends with very flamboyant gay men, who were indeed, far more fun than everyone else. My mother taught me that some people like people of the opposite sex and some people like people of the same sex and we didn't get any more into it than that because as I child I didn't care. I naturally accepted this fact and went and played with my heterosexual Barbies without pondering it any further.

As I got older I made my own gay friends and I felt badly when I saw them discriminated against. How stupid and horrible, I would think and I would argue with people who hated homosexuality. I don't really like the term homophobic, because I don't necessarily always equate fear and hate. Some people who hate gay people or deny their rights aren't scared of them.

When I tried to argue with anti-gay people, I often used the argument that being gay is not a choice and I don't think it is in almost every case. I say almost because I met a few women who told me that they did choose to be with other women because they had been raped or abused by men and were fearful of men. I still think their "choice" is up for debate, but I'm just telling you what they said. I believe some people are born gay. I don't think that being born gay is the equivalent of a birth defect or that if a child comes out gay that it means there was some accident in the womb or a gene mutation. It's like having brown eyes. Some people are born with them, some aren't. It's a different way of being like all the other different ways of being.

I meant well when I argued that homosexuality is not a choice. I based my argument on unspoken playground morals - you can't be mean to people for things they can't help. I didn't understand that there was a flaw in my logic or what I was accidentally implying, because the truth is, you shouldn't be mean to people for things they can help either. You just shouldn't be mean period.

The problem in defending homosexuality by saying that it isn't a choice is that it implies that if it were a choice, then it would be ok to discriminate and denigrate the people who made that choice. It implies that if homosexuality were a choice (which I still believe it isn't) then it would be a very bad choice. It wouldn't.

It doesn't matter why people are gay. Who cares? Choice, genetics, hormones, nature, nurture, whatever. It's wonderful to be gay no matter the reason. In fact, we should probably not even try to look for a reason because looking for a reason again implies that it's like a disease and we need to find the cause so we can fix it. The cause doesn't matter. It's not a problem. Nothing needs to be fixed except the mindsets and broken belief systems that say homosexuality is evil.

Of course gay people should be able to get married. Of course they should adopt children.

Again, I used to use flawed logic in defending gay adoption. One of my arguments was that you can't make children gay. What would it matter if you could? I don't think you can, but hypothetically, what if you could? Why would this be a problem? You could argue that then the child would be subjected to harassment and prejudice. The solution to that isn't changing the gay child or trying to prevent the child from being gay. The solution is fixing the bullies, not the victim.

I also argue that gay people can make better parents than straight people because gay people can't take reproduction for granted the way heterosexuals can. Gay couples or individuals can never have a child by accident, therefore every gay person who has a child wants and plans for the child, which is an ideal situation. Often they go to great lengths to get their children, so it's obvious that these children are greatly loved, valued and appreciated. I'd much rather children be raised in stable, loving gay homes than by uneducated, impoverished teenagers.

But back to the church. I won't become a member of any religion that condemns gay people, which means that I won't become Catholic (there are many other Catholic ideologies I disagree with besides this one). I am using the location and ritual of the church as a place for me to contemplate and pray. I am embracing the values that speak to me and rejecting the ones that don't. This one, I reject.


Jean_Phx said...

For me, too many of their doctrines abhor me so I can't even use the nave in good conscious. Glad that you find some solace in the church building - if not the religion itself.

Dayna said...

Oh Wide Lawns I don't have the time or the strenghth for an adequate post on this subject. I need a blog or to write a book on the subject. As as cradle and very active Catholic, over the years I have formed my own personal form of "Open-Minded Catholisism".
First off all I feel that a large majority of the priest are closeted gays.
There is nothing that makes my blood boil more then when hearing a sermon about anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. We have 2011 yrs of history in the Catholic Church, enough to keep politics out.
Gays should be able to openly marry and adopt. Half a million foster children in this country just want a FOREVER home race, sexual orientation, or religion doesn't matter to them.
Don't even get me started on abortion. Start with the root cause. A woman MUST be mentally, physically and finacially able to raise her baby. I never hear anyone priest talk about that. Oh let me add this in I don't think that knocked up little teenage girls should stand on the altar and be Eucharistic Ministers.

More than ever during the 2008 Presidential campaign, a prayed a lot for God to lead me down the right path that would one day lead me to Eternal Happiness, helping all mankind along the way. They only message God repeatedly sent to me was "Jesus was not a popular man and many people didn't believe him". Amen!!

I love love love the Catholic religion, I just don't like all the "Tea Party" priest.

Travis A said...

Thank you so much for this. It means a lot to me and, I'm sure, many others. I always appreciate the well-meaning folks who say things like, "They didn't choose to be gay. Who would choose that?" Even though the underlying implication is still uncomfortable, I know that you and like-minded people are just recognizing that we're still living in a discriminatory society and that being gay is a struggle. That support is always welcome. But I definitely prefer this kind of support!

Kerry said...

I agree with you that gay parents may be better parents, and for the same reason- they can't wind up with kids, that every single child is deliberate. I love that and wish it would be that way with straight people, too. Every child should be intentional.

"The solution is fixing the bullies, not the victim." Oh, absolutely. My heart broke reading that. Yes, yes, yes.

I've never understood why it's such a big deal who a person loves. It's hard enough to find happiness and caring in this world, so why put additional conditions on it?

Rich said...

In the interest of fairness, please also advise that you won't be Muslim. It's too easy to pick on Catholics, isn't it... You do know that Muslims think gays should be killed. I don't remember that in my Catholic upbringing.

Thanks for listening,

A Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to tell you my side. I am a convert to Catholicism. During my conversion process, I voiced several of my objections to the woman leading our group. She said to me, "Take what you want and leave the rest." I said, "I can do that." I also worked for Catholic Charities for many years and quite a few children were adopted by gay couples. Most of the parishes around here have groups for gay and lesbians, too.
So, we aren't all bad!!!!

Travis A said...

In response to Rick, please consider that the Muslim faith is still a relatively young religion at approx. 1400 years old. When the Catholic Church was 1400, they were just gearing up for the Inquisition. Eventually Islam will grow up and choose to ignore the parts of the Book that are patently offensive and dangerously violent, the same way that your chosen faith has. But in the meantime it is vitally important that we be honest.

You're right, Catholics aren't currently in the practice of murdering gays, but it is a tragic piece of the church's history that should not be whitewashed and forgotten. And while they don't have a direct hand in my community's murder any longer, the church hierarchy is still responsible for contributing to a shameful atmosphere of hatred and violence against LGBT people through the Church's official stance that we are wrong, sinful, and deviant. For all of these actions and attitudes, they point to Holy Scripture, and unless I'm mistaken, the Pope hasn't released a new, edited version of the Bible that redacts any references to "their blood shall be upon them." The burden of responsibility, then, is still upon well-meaning Catholics to make it clear that they don't accept that piece of the official doctrine.

We will all be better off if we hold every faith accountable for their discriminatory positions. That goes for Muslims that murder gay people, and Catholics/Baptists/Mormons/OrthodoxJews that simply encourage it by continuing to lie and say that there is something wrong with us.

catherine said...

I believe that you don't need to belong to particular church to believe in God. You can talk to Him wherever you are. I find that sometimes organized religions likes to twist and corrupt the message to suit their needs. Look at Westboro baptist church, or Televangelists begging for money to support their lifestyle.

My husbands aunt and uncle, who are missionaries in Haiti right now call people like that "sunday christians" they only embrace their faith when it suits them to. They used to have a church, but the parishioners were like the ones muddywaters has so they decided to be missionaries instead and help people that need it and appreciate it. They have never been happier.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who was not mentally, physically and financially able to raise her baby. But she did not abort. That child was very inconvenient to her at 19. However, the baby is now 12 and gorgeous, thriving, kind beautiful human being. Very intelligent as well maybe he will discover the cure for something or not. But in any case he is a joy to see alive. And by the way he is still inconvenient.

Why not have little pregnant teenage girls as Eucharistic Ministers? Church is for sinners. Perhaps they have asked for forgiveness. Who are we to judge?

Hilary said...

"The problem in defending homosexuality by saying that it isn't a choice is that it implies that if it were a choice, then it would be ok to discriminate and denigrate the people who made that choice. It implies that if homosexuality were a choice (which I still believe it isn't) then it would be a very bad choice. It wouldn't."

You nailed it with this paragraph.

Anonymous said...

One of the few people I know who follows a coherent approach to catholicism (and is most likely gay and at least out to himself) says the following:
- You can't be a catholic and pick and choose. It comes as a complete package.
- Sinning is sinning and we all do it. God knows this. The "sin" of being gay is no better/worse that the sin of coveting other people's things/spouses, standing by with so much poverty and misery in the world, etc. etc. The issue of homosexuality is just a drop in the ocean and is nobody's business but the sinner's and God (plus whoever is interposed between, such as the pope, priests, etc.)

Of course I think it's just a bunch of crazy talk. And I don't know many catholics, so maybe there are other sane ones... Maybe you would find the solace you need in the UU church, Lawns?

Suffer Kate said...

Awesomely well written, Madame Lawns. You covered a wide array of arguments and I am very impressed.

Kirsten B NYC said...

Amen, sister!

Anonymous said...

I am Catholic AND I think this was a logical and beautiful post. I totally agree with you.

I also was drawn to the Mass...loved it so much that I converted at age 32 and raised my children Catholic. They don't go to Mass..don't really identify themselves as Catholic..have gay and straight friends. But I know that they "know" that Mass is there if they ever want it. I just wanted to share the experience with them and so I did. They in turn, gave me an insight to what it feels like to grow up as a gay or bi-sexual teen, as they shared their friends experiences.

Again, I love the made me look at this in a different way. Thank you for sharing; your parents did a great job raising such a loving, fair minded daughter!


Melanie said...

Wide Lawns, I'm totally on board with your philosophy. I, too, believe in being kind to my fellow human beings, regardless of our differences.

BTW, I converted two years ago from Christianity to Buddhism, and I feel very happy and peaceful about my decision. My new Buddhist friends are loving and caring to people from all walks of life. It's very comforting to be around them.

rosie-b said...


Muslums don't believe that gays (adulterers, thieves, "infidels" (and btw none of us ever use that word)) should be killed.

Please don't mix up our religion for what people in certain cultures do. Culture and religion are two different things and I'm sick of getting blamed for the nonsense that comes out of the Middle East.

And since we're on the subject, Islam considers terrorism, suicide, murder, destruction of property, and fighting with unarmed combatants to be huge sins. Don't let your Islamiphobia get the better of you. If you do, the terrorists win.

Rich said...


When others like you start demonstrating in the streets to change the perception, I'll be with you.

Anonymous said...

I think homosexuality is a dial rather than a switch. I think every one is cranked to their own degree.

Cricket said...

A good and thoughtful post. Congratulations on your potw. This is an important issue. Though I am a practicing Catholic (see my own linked post at Hilary's), I also am very uncomfortable with the creeping effects of the right-wing on Catholicism.

I would like to split a hair of Catholic doctrine, though. The Catechism states: "[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. CCC 2358"

OK, fair enough. Yet this is true for all people, is it not? We are never called to treat anyone otherwise. So we come to the issue of choice.

If homosexuality is not a choice, which, for various reasons, I believe it is not, then being gay is not a sin. The idea is not that it would be all right to discriminate against homosexuals otherwise. Unjust discrimination is never acceptable. The idea is that being gay is not a sin in itself. That is the meaning of the teaching.

Gerald, over at Creative Advance, has written several worthwhile posts on this issue which you might appreciate. Check him out.

Thanks for your post.

rosie-b said...


We DO! The news never covers it. It doesn't matter how much we speak out against this stuff. No one wants to hear about it.

We hold rallies, protests, have classes to teach or kids what to do if confronted with recruiters, donate money to victims, renounce terrorists again and again. None of it is any good. People think all of us are evil.

Really I don't know why I waste my time writing this stuff, you'll think I'm an violent, oppressed degenerate no matter what I say.
Enjoy your racism.

Out on the prairie said...

I think with any religion you will find the doctrine intolerant of a few things you won't agree with. Is there really a rule that one must be 100% perfect with the doctrine to be part of the church?I go to mass Saturday and another protestant one on Sundays.It is a social experience as well.

CherylK said...

This is an excellent post. Wouldn't it be nice if all faiths embraced the "live and let live" philosophy? I think that's really what you're saying, here. I'm all for it.

BTW, congrats on being a Post of the Week. Well deserved.

She Writes said...

I'm confused. Are you Mormon? Religion tends to be intolerant of many things in the name of God. This was well written and thought provoking.

Here from Hilary's.

Wide Lawns said...

Oh my God no. Why would you think I was Mormon? I'm not exactly any religion. If I had to say, I guess I would call myself a non-denominational, protestant leaning, very socially liberal, Christian? Maybe? I was baptized Methodist when I was six?

Mimi said...

gret post, I came over from Hilary's. Congrats on POTW.
I like your idea of using the church building to contemplate and pray. I sometimes do that too, and light a few candles in their holders, sending love to my dear ones who have passed on.
The Abbott of Glenstal was interviewed on tv here last night, and he thinks the church is but a medium,that we choose (or not) to connect us with the Holy Spirit. I like his thinking and he came across as a tolerant man. Would there were more like him!

Amy said...

Yes! Very well said.

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