#pridemonth: I choose to love

My company – the one I own roughly one-third of – recently put out a message in support of the Pride Month and LGBTQ+ communities. They even changed their profile picture in social media to this:

rainbowlogo

In this post, I want to confirm that I’m fully and wholeheartedly behind this – but what’s the big deal? This should go without saying. Except that I think of myself as a practising Catholic of sorts (even with my diminishing trust in the bodies and officials of the Church). And these days anyone who professes to be Christian seems to be expected to explain any liberal leanings. Especially as we have received a few – not many – angry reactions and hate messages that speak of a “violent minority”.

I do not support the LGBTQ+ rights and communities despite my faith – I support them because of my faith. You see, beliefs and love are not feelings: we can choose what we believe and we can choose to love just as we can choose to hate. And I choose to love. But to do that, I need to choose to believe a few things first. (Or do I? Anyway, here goes.)

I believe that we can know things, and I believe we can know those things through science, and I also believe that science does not go against faith. (The links below are just examples; there are a great many more resources.)

I choose to believe science when it says that human beings cannot choose their sexual identity or their sexual orientation: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cross-cultural-evidence-for-the-genetics-of-homosexuality/

I also choose to believe that homosexuality is not an illness and cannot be ‘cured’: https://www.livescience.com/37139-facts-about-gay-conversion-therapy.html

I choose to believe that being anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum does not happen by choice, that it isn’t a trend or a lifestyle – and being LGBTQ+ is not a person’s attempt to cause upset or harm to society.

You know what? This is all beside the point. Because I also choose to believe what the SciAm article says: “But we as a society should challenge the notion that sexual preferences must be nonvolitional to be socially acceptable or safe from scrutiny. The etiology of homosexuality, biological or otherwise, should have no bearing on gay individuals’ right to equality.” We must accept a person because we value another human’s life just as much as ours, regardless of their leanings and pursuits. If you’re of a Christian persuasion, your Bible will say that the other person is created in God’s likeness, and that should be enough – that’s where their dignity comes from.

I refuse to judge homosexual or other LGBTQ+ behavior and I refuse to judge those who live that way. I would refuse to judge them even if I thought this behavior was sinful – not just because Jesus says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37).

I do not judge because I also believe that our language is flawed, and that we cannot judge an action without judging the person. And we cannot judge without inciting action against the judged – our judgements, more often than not, can cause actual harm, even violence to those we judge.

And I believe that their right to be accepted and included, their right to be free from harm, harassment, and persecution outweighs our moral convictions. I believe that being LGBTQ+ does not cause harm to others, and it definitely isn’t contagious.

But then I don’t even believe that the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments come from righteous conviction. I think their source is the primal fear for the survival of the species, the dread of “non-productive” sex – no-one says it better than C. S. Lewis in his “Out of the Silent Planet” (and here is a quote that I tend to overuse):

“There are laws that all hnau [people] know, of pity and straight dealing and shame and the like, and one of these is the love of kindred. He [the evil one] has taught you to break all of them except this one, which is not one of the greatest laws; […] And now you can do nothing but obey it […].”

I also did some homework, and read up on Stonewall. The callousness of the law that requires “at least three items of gender-appropriate clothing” is like a slap in the face. (The police invoked this clause against the patrons there.) It reeks of the cowardly effort to bring back discriminatory legislation at a time when people already knew that criminalizing LGBTQ+ was not OK. I have also followed the Brebeuf story – more precisely, the Twitter thread that ensued after my favorite Jesuit, Father James Martin SJ stood up for them. (Brebeuf is a Jesuit school in Indiana that the archdiocese stripped of the Catholic title for refusing to fire an LGBTQ+ member of staff.) A lot of the comments show how easy it is to throw out the core teachings of love and mercy, and choose instead to cling to man-made Church law that is based on outdated knowledge… what is this if not deep-rooted fear of everything different?

I choose to believe that Pride isn’t an attempt to impose a lifestyle: but I know that it is a cry for safety, for equal rights, and to be free from being hated and harmed. I believe that God gave me free will and that I can choose to either hate or love – and I choose to follow Jesus’ teachings, and I choose to love.

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