Sorry for the delay! In Chicago for Pride, which I will-hopefully soon, write all about.
Today’s letter comes to you from Natalie Trust, a new friend over social media. She is someone that I’ve seen, through conversations over twitter and reading her work, I have found to be such a gracious voice and powerful voice. On her blog writes about her story, the hard parts, and the road to healing (and catholicism)! When she sent me this letter, I fell apart a little bit. Its just that beautiful.
To read more of her work, check out her blog here!
I didn’t put an = symbol on any social media account when everyone else was doing it. It just wasn’t the kind of statement that I wanted to make. But, I’d like to make a declaration and a promise, here, in this love letter to you now.
I’ve made statements about homosexuality and gay marriage of which I am ashamed.
“One Man, One Woman – Measure 36.” Yes, about a decade ago, those bumper stickers were handed out freely at an evangelical mega church, which I attended, in Portland, Oregon, and you know what I thought about that? I thought it was great. I was twenty years old, and I thought I was doing something good in the world through those bumper stickers. I thought I was right to protect people like me from people like you.
Oh, friends, how wrong I was, how horribly, terribly wrong.
I didn’t have a clear, concrete moment of clarity in which I realized that bigotry is bigotry even if you quote scripture in front of it. The commonly told stories of Sodom and Gomorrah were still stashed away in Sunday school lessons of days gone by, and slowly or maybe it was quickly, I began to question the meaning behind verses like Leviticus 18:22. Perhaps it took my own life falling to pieces for me to start asking God some honest questions about this life and how we are to love.
I became friends with some gay men and they held me in their arms when I was falling apart and laughed loud freedom with me over drinks and memories, and you know what? I thought nothing of their sexual orientation. I never once stopped and compared my homosexual friends with my straight friends. I never, even for a second, thought I had to protect people like me from people like them. These men were my friends, my people, and I loved them.
Then some years later, as I considered uprooting myself from Protestantism and becoming a Catholic, I wondered what the Catholic response to homosexuality would be. I knew what I had heard in my Protestant churches: love the sinner hate the sin, repent and find freedom in Christ, God made one woman and one man, and admonishments to flee the “gay lifestyle”. So, of course, while gathering with other Catholics, learning about teachings of the Church, I was a bit on edge when the topic of sexuality came up, but as I was listening, something struck me hard and heavy with relief. As I was seated in an uncomfortable, peeling folding chair, a man’s voice behind me asked, “Can you be gay and be a Catholic?
I didn’t even have time to tense up because the answer was given immediately.
“Absolutely, yes, you can be gay and be a Catholic. You can’t control your sexual orientation. Gay or straight? They are our brothers and sisters. They are welcome.”
The relief that washed over me when those words were spoken was of great encouragement. Now, I understand that currently, the Roman Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex marriages. I’m not sure when or if they ever will, but what I do know is that I heard so much love in their response that night in the cafeteria. I had never heard another Christian say anything even remotely like that, in reaction to the question of homosexuality. I’m not sure what the way forward looks like for the Catholic Church, but I know what the way forward looks like for me.
I’m not going to stretch my arms out for a way of faith that excludes the LGBTQ community. I won’t die on the mountains of verses that have been used to exclude you from the Body of Christ. I know there’s a lot of debate, you know it better than I, but I’m not going to stake my faith in Jesus on Genesis 19:1-11 or on the peaks of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. And the rocky caves of those verses, you know the ones, in Judges, Kings, and Romans; no, I will not die on those mountains either.
Instead, I will look to Calvary, the cross on which the Savior died. And I will say, “Lord, these men and women and children, these are your people. I want to care for them as you would care for me. Grant me the love and the compassion to take care of my brothers and sisters.”
And then, I will remember his words on the cross, “It is finished.” The greatest act of love has been done before us, offered to us; let us imitate the love Christ lived on earth and imitate his love during the last breath he took on earth.
Friends, I will actively choose to declare love for you. I will promise not to be silent when the bigotry of others grows loud. I will stand for you and with you because we are all covered by the love of Christ; I won’t die on a mountain that excludes you from this Truth.
Be sure to read more Natalie’s blog!