Sometimes I'm just so glad I'm Catholic.
In this particular instance, it's kind of a long story. After I posted earlier about Jennifer Knapp coming out as a lesbian while maintaining she is not living a lifestyle of sin, I became more and more interested (okay, a little obsessed) with the subject. I posted a mini-rant on someone's status update about the reasoning against gay marriage (from a secular point of view, as this person is not a believer); then tonight I noticed some friends commenting on someone else's Facebook page about an interview Knapp did on Larry King Live. These friends are all part of an "emerging church" group, which, if you're unfamiliar with the term, refers to a nontraditional gathering of believers who may meet anywhere with a structure of their choosing and, according to this article in Christianity Today, generally adhere to practices like serving others, welcoming strangers, and living in community. I was mortified to see these Christians praising Knapp for "holding her own" in the interview. I thought, "Holding her own??? As in, you think she's justified with her defense of being a practicing gay Christian?" Which led to me do a little internet research on the Emerging Church's position on homosexuality. Now, of course, I realize that trying to ascertain any "Emerging Church position" is kind of like trying to catch a greased weasel. The Emerging Church seems to dislike taking a stance on...well, most anything you might consider doctrine. And since emergent groups aren't necessarily associated with each other, it's even more slippery. Their overall response to the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, however, seems to be a slide toward condoning homosexual practice. Tony Jones, an Emergent theologian, has stated on his blog that "I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state." Brian MacLaren, another spokesperson for the Emergent movement, had this to say when asked for his position on gay marriage: "You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there's no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side."(As reported here from a 2005 issue of Time magazine.) Hmm....opens up some big questions. Like, does biblical Truth hurt? I rather think it should sometimes. Because the hurt of conviction now is going to be a whole lot better than the hurt of a lifetime spent in sin, not to mention its potential eternal ramifications. What about this humdinger: was Jesus concerned about offending people? Or was He concerned with saving their souls? The Scripture fairy is dropping this verse into my mind: "I come not to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt. 10:34). And I NEVER thought I would quote Wikipedia in this post, but it really eloquently interprets that statement from Christ: "Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God and with those who love Him, the immediate result of the gospel is frequently ideological and moral conflict with the world." Wiki-wiki-wha...?
I genuinely respect the Emerging Church's commitment to love and serve unbelievers around them. I think that's 100% biblical and totally laudable. I believe they're doing a lot of good in the world. But when I look at the life of Christ, it seems to me that He didn't stop there. He washed the disciple's feet and then He told them how to cleanse their souls, too. How can a Christ-follower take such a soft stance on something that in 2,000 years of Church history has always been a no-bones-about-it sin?
So anyway, this is why sometimes I am just so glad--relieved, even--to be Catholic. Because in my rooting around on the Internet, I saw so many different individual voices crying to be heard above the rest. Pastors, thinkers, bloggers, joe schmoes, and no small number of stark raving lunatics. Everyone laying claim to Scripture or personal experience, presenting their defenses. But in the end, who's to say who's right or got the upper hand? It's a vast, choppy ocean of thought out there and everyone's clutching at whatever will float--sometimes to cling to so they keep their heads above water, sometimes to clobber the other guy with. But I have a Church that traces its origin all the way back to Christ, and that Church has a sane, compassionate, loving, biblical, no-nonsense position on this tempestuous, hot-button issue. And here it is, straight from the Catechism:
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,140 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."141 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.