Thursday, August 2, 2012

Loaded Like a Loaded Baked Potato

Unless you have been living under a rock, I would bet you are as sick of hearing about Chick-Fil-A as I am.  I am simply over companies deciding they have to speak up for or against any issue. I live on a budget and cannot boycott every place that may or may not have someone that disagrees with me, even if it is on serious issues. I also am not going to run out and start patroning an establishment that I have not once previously exchanged my money for goods or services at just because someone tells me I should. That being said, there is still a great big (yet not surprising) fireball of controversy to address.

1.       I invite you to all read what Dan Cathy actually said.

2.       I invite you to review the definitions of homophobia, bigot, tolerance and even hatred.

3.       I invite you to understand Catholic teaching on the subject.

4.       I invite you think for a little while about marriage.

Q. What did Cathy say?

A. “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” 

He said this when asked a question related to his support of traditional marriage in an interview by the Biblical Recorder. Given the current divorce rates in our nation, maybe we all should be a little more supportive of traditional marriage and the family unit.

Q. What are the definitions of homophobia, bigot, tolerance and hatred?

A. They are as follows: (As defined by

Homophobia: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

Bigot: : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Tolerance: a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b: the act of allowing something : toleration

Hatred: prejudiced hostility or animosity

These are the accusations being thrown at a man for saying he supports traditional marriage. He did not sit down for a public interview and spew vitriolic statements about gay marriage and homosexuals. He is not discriminating against homosexual employees or customers. He did not show animosity for homosexuals. Stating his support for traditional marriage in an interview does not by default express a lack of allowing something (homosexuality) with which he disagrees. This being said, I am not naïve. This statement probably means he is not a gay rights activist. Does that mean that by default he is a homophobic bigot that is intolerant and spreads hatred? No. A thousand times no. I support traditional marriage. I also have many friends and loved ones that are homosexual, and I cannot imagine my life without them! They are amazing people. When I was working as a domestic and sexual violence advocate, I spread word about the local anti-violence agency that provided support to those of the LGBTQ community because NO ONE deserves to be a victim of domestic or sexual violence, and I still support these projects. I do not support hate groups of any kind. Yet on nearly a daily basis, I witness friends and family supporting hatred of the Catholic Chruch.

Q. What is Catholic teaching on the subject?

(I know that Cathy is not Catholic, but I am and this is my post and I want to address misconceptions related to Catholic teaching. While I have spent a good number of years studying and learning the Catholic faith, I am by no means an expert at interpreting the bible, doctrine, etc. This is an ongoing journey for me so I will just stick to the basics and use the tools given to me to “think aloud” on the subject.)

#2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

#2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

#2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

To understand the Catholic perspective on a deeper level, the study of natural law as well as the Catholic teaching on sexuality is important. It is not as simple as many would have us believe. Day in and day out I see a media bias that rips my heart out. I see Uninformed Ignorance spew distorted information regarding the Catholic Church. This guy knows what I am talking about (I also greatly admire him for telling his story.) Is it easy to follow church teaching? No. In many, many cases it is extraordinarily difficult. Does the church teach it is a sin to be attracted to the same sex? No. Catholic teaching is stated clearly above. If I may be blunt, Uninformed Ignorance would have you believe the two are one in the same. Suddenly every person that has access to the Internet thinks they are an expert on the Catholic Church. It is beyond frustrating to me when someone who spent a few years in grade school in a CCD class or in a Catholic school feeling they are an expert on the subject of Catholicism. There is a great deal to be said about how well Catholics are educated on their own faith, but the assumption that any random individual interprets Church teaching correctly is a pet peeve of mine. The fact that I spent 19 years getting a Catholic education and I still spend a great deal of time studying the faith informally and asking questions only to be met by Uniformed Ignorance that likes to think they know all about what I believe REALLY gets under my skin.  Rant tabled…

Q. So what about marriage?

A. This is certainly a loaded question. Here is what I personally (I cannot express enough that this is not the position of the Catholic Church but my own humble and still forming views on the subject.) have to say on the subject of marriage.

I am Catholic. Marriage is a sacrament. Some thoughts on sacraments (once again, courtesy of the CCC) :

1123 "The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called 'sacraments of faith.'

As a Catholic who takes her faith seriously, I do not believe the state gave me permission to get married. I don’t believe I am married to my husband because the marriage license says so, but because I stood in front of God and took vows to love my husband for better, for worse, etc, etc. I was required to have a marriage license for legal reasons. So I ask: why is the church in the business of state legal issues? There are not state licenses required for any of the other sacraments: it would seem to me that a marriage license is therefore only legally necessary. In other nations, a civil ceremony is separate from the wedding ceremony. The way of life and the intrusion on religious freedom in this nation is changing. Would it not be prudent for churches to get out of the marriage license business now versus face the inevitable day where the government decides what ceremonies the churches are required to allow?

Final Thoughts

The subject of homosexuality is incredibly sensitive. I believe Catholic teaching is correct on the matter and that teaching is misinterpreted by the secular world. I know pure hatred also exists. I do not believe my faith calls me to merely “tolerate” someone that believes differently than I do. I am called to love. This does not mean we must agree. This does not mean that we ignore our differences and pretend everything is fluffy and nice. This means we have difficult but respectful conversations with those we love, and we address our differences. Then we CONTINUE to love one another. We continue to be charitable despite differences.

I have been witness to some pretty awful conversations on this subject. I often see those that advocate for “tolerance” show no such thing themselves. I see people engaged in hateful and bigoted commentary while condemning the other side for doing the same. I am filled with sadness.
I am hereby boycotting boycotts and silently protesting protests. I am abandoning these tools in favor of diologue.


  1. Hmmmm... that definition of "bigot" applies to many, many of the "tolerant, open-minded liberals" I know.

  2. Hmmmm.... curious how the pendulum swings both ways, isn't it?

  3. This. Was. Perfect. Thank you for writing all that I have been trying to formulate in my own mind these last few days.

  4. Hi Jess, I just now got a chance to catch up on your blog (life, you know how it is)...

    Very nice. I've wondered if the separation of the church marriage from the civil rights afforded to a married couple wouldn't be an effective negation to a lot of the issues that surround this particular topic. I've tossed it out at times, and the response tends to be less than receptive (welcome to Kansas).

    Honestly, the pastor that conducted our wedding ceremony has conducted several same-sex ceremonies. Most other churches, as well as the state, can and do refuse to recognize them, but they come to their church, before their spiritual leader and their god, and made their commitments and their promise, and it's as real as they believe, regardless the beliefs and opinions of the rest of the world. The civil rights afforded married couples (inheritance, medical, child custody, social security, ect.), that's a whole different sticking point. Here in KS, we passed a constitutional amendment to deny the concept of a civil union (on top of the traditional marriage) to homosexuals. I would imagine there will come a time in the not too distant future when a large religious denomination will approve the sanctioning of same-sex couples. Without a decoupling of the civil rights of marriage from the sacrament of marriage, that will most likely lead to the courts. If the state will recognize only a traditional marriage as male and female, when a church sanctions a same-sex marriage, then the state has by default chosen a side as far as religion is concerned. That would be a tough position to argue, even on a textualist basis.

    At this point, a good number of the fortune 500 companies recognize same-sex partnerships with regards to insurance and retirement beneficiaries (my own included, for over a decade now). I've seen from the disdain and derision I've gotten how hard it is for people to want to give up something that they've gotten automatically, but I also think that drives home the point of how something that seems so part of life is something that's so important to those who are denied it. Your church is your church, and your faith is your faith. As far as rights granted by the state, they should either go all in, or go all out.

    Now, I'll preface this by saying I'm not Catholic. I'm not going to ramble on about how Catholics are and what they believe, I wasn't there, and I don't know. I just have the scope of the CCCs and the linked information to go on. What I am wondering is can a person be gay and Catholic?

    I guess to be more succinct, can a gay person be in love and still be faithful to Catholic teachings?

    There is a lot of back and forth as to whether homosexuality is something a person is born with, or something that is developed as a result of a person's environment. I would opine that it's probably a mix of both, but this is based on anecdotal conversation with gay people that I know, and hardly something I can back with metrics. But if a person finds themselves attracted only to members of the same sex, are they required to deny themselves the love that persons attracted to the opposite sex can enjoy and experience to remain faithful to Catholic teaching? And I'm in no way judging, 2358 makes very clear the expectations regarding love and compassion towards homosexuals, and I've never seen or heard you be unkind or untoward anyone (not anyone that mattered, anyway). I'm asking because I don't know. And possibly (hopefully) fleshing out some of these questions may help dispell some of the vitrol that comes from the "tolerant" folks who fail to grasp the definition.



  5. As someone who is not gay, or incredibly well versed on the subject, all I can really do successfully on the matter is refer to the CCC and doctrine because it requires the same from all Catholics.(While Cathos do hold the bible at the same level of importance as(if not higher than) doctrine,it is not at the literal level that some Christian denominations place it. I am not skilled at translation and interpretation of the bible so I do not tend to rely on it for much as I am being honest and sometimes just do not understand it at this point.)
    I would also agree on the nature vs. nurture aspect of homosexuality. A mix is probably accruate, but I don't know and the why doesn't matter to me because it doesn't change how I am asked to treat others. (Those that know me know that I mostly don't care to be around people period regardless of age, sex, race, or sexual attraction, but that is because I am more of an introvert.) I can speak from a vocation stand point, rather an individual's calling: we all have radically different callings in life, and are asked to sacrifice in different ways. I have read some of the posts on and as a Catholic that experiences same sex attraction, he maintains that all the Eucharist and the Catholic Church has to offer is more important to him than romantic love on earth. To be fair, I think that many heterosexuals experience a call to this sacrifice as well. I don't know that I have a solid answer.
    As far as marriage, it would do us all some good to get a nice healthy dose of reality. Not everyone is Catholic and Catholics are called to be in the world but not of the world, and in this world, there are benefits afforded to those legally married. I say we need to split the two.
    I do agree that fleshing out some of those details is important, but I have encountered few situations where I am afforded the ability to say my piece or provide explanation... I am often shut out of the conversation early on because I do not hide that I am a practicing Catholic. I can't think of the last time that was a popular thing to be!
    Thanks for reading, and I appreciate the discussions we have had over the past few weeks!


Comments are always welcome! Come join me on:
Twitter: @jessfayette