I am not a fan of getting into political or controversial issues here on the blog. I like to keep this place fun and occasionally helpful. Every once in a while, though, I just can't let something go.
This is one of those times.
My Facebook feed has been lit up the last few days, and I only have 88 Facebook friends.
And yet, with even such few people, I've seen all sorts of things being said that I just can't let go. There are lots of assumptions and untruths flying around, and I'm going to try to clear a few things up. "Try" being the word you focus on in that sentence. I'm not an expert. I am a Catholic person who does her very best to follow the teachings of her Church. I honestly believe it leads me to be the best person I can be. The person God wants me to be. It is not an easy faith. It asks a lot of us. Self-sacrifice is a theme throughout the teachings, and self-sacrifice is hard a lot of the time.
Let's get to it.
I'm going to start with an opinion that I've seen a whole heck of a lot these days.
People who oppose same-sex marriage are bigots, homophobes and full of hate.
Not gonna lie. Some are. There are most definitely people out there who are opposed to it and have no trouble saying vile, horrible things.
They are giving us a bad name.
I have also seen horrible things said from the other side, too.
They are giving the rest a bad name.
Hate doesn't take sides. It's everywhere.
Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time must know that I don't hate anyone. I've never even hinted at hating anyone. I don't encourage anyone to be mean or hateful.
Catholic teaching is all about love. We take very seriously the call to love others regardless of who they are or what they believe.
The Catholic Church has hospitals, homeless shelters, food pantries, crisis pregnancy centers, disaster relief services, prison ministries, mission trips...The list goes on and on. All of them Catholic, and they serve, with love and respect and dignity, anyone who walks in the door.
We as individuals are called to serve. To love and serve all people, not just those who agree with us. Every single person on this earth has value, an equal value, and they deserve to be shown love, respect, and compassion.
We don't always live up to the ideal we are called to be.
No one does.
We're human with human flaws.
But we try.
We try really hard.
Next up, we're going to have to talk sex. (Sorry, Dad.)
Only those in sacramental marriage should be having sex. It's a big no to everyone else.
The primary purpose of sex is to create new life.
Any sexual act that prevents or is incompatible with the making of a baby shouldn't be done.
That includes using contraception. That includes sex that isn't between a man and a woman.
Even married couples are called to be chaste if they aren't willing to have a child.
Like I said, self-sacrifice. It isn't easy.
I guess this would be as good a place as any to define marriage as the Catholic Church teaches it.
As my Archbishop recently wrote,
"The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that marriage is a natural institution established by God to be a permanent union between one man and one woman, intended towards the formation of a family in which children are born and nurtured."
Clearly this is not a belief shared by everyone.
But neither are many of the Catholic teachings.
Contraception has been used by many for decades. Divorce and remarriage is common. Sex outside of marriage is even more common. Pornography is a multi-million dollar business.
Being deemed "outdated" in our beliefs isn't new.
We aren't surprised that same-sex marriage is now legal.
It doesn't change our beliefs, just as other laws, such as legal abortion, haven't changed our beliefs.
So why are people worried now? Why are your Catholic (and other Christian) friends so concerned now?
Well, I'll tell you one reason.
While you, I, and the Church know that not everyone will follow the Church's teachings, the Church and Catholics can't knowingly help people to sin.
That's why Catholic doctors don't prescribe the pill.
It's why Catholic hospitals refuse to perform vasectomies.
It's why Catholic priests will not officiate same-sex weddings.
It's why Catholic bakers won't make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Discrimination and hate have nothing to do with it. In fact, the opposite is true. It's all about love. When you truly love another person, you encourage him to be better. You encourage him to live better. You don't stand by while he goes off to sin. You certainly don't help him to sin.
We can't, in good conscience, be a part of it.
So when businesses are asked to be a part of a same-sex wedding, the owners of those businesses have to go with their conscience. They can't be a part.
Your Catholic and other Christian friends are worried because they are being punished for choosing their conscience. Businesses are being sued and shut down, with fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, because owners choose their conscience over their businesses. They aren't being allowed to practice their religion. It isn't right, yet it's happening.
It isn't just about same-sex marriage, either.
Laws are being passed requiring businesses to pay for their employees' contraception. Businesses owned by NUNS are being forced to do so. If their appeals are shut down, the nuns will have to close their businesses, because they can't be a part of another person's sins.
The buzz words of the day are show love and compassion. That's what we're trying to do. The question is, will we be allowed to continue to do so?
I realize that this is a broad overview. There is no way I can address all issues fully in one blog post. If you have questions, please feel free to ask them. I'll do my best to answer them.
I also realize that most people reading this won't agree with me. I'm OK with that. I can still be your friend.
Have a lovely day!