Friday, June 23, 2006

Rosie and God

Rosie DiManno wrote a couple of days ago on the Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, and James Loney. She said two things I'd like to dispute.

"...the Church, which makes unreasonable demands on gays by basically requiring celibacy of them."

The Church makes 'unreasonable' demands on every unmarried, every single male and female, homosexual or heterosexual. But it isn't just the Church, it's God through the Bible who makes this demand. God makes a lot of other harsh demands too, which people blithely ignore to the point that they don't even acknowledge that God made the demand in the first place. But in our sex-obsessed society, this one seems to be considered the worst or hardest or most unreasonable. I beg to differ.

The hardest demand is that of showing compassion, especially to society's outcasts and especially to people who have harmed us. The way society has treated lepers over the centuries is the best example of this. We humans live in groupthink; the nuns who over a millennium ago set up places for lepers to live in peace and with the love of one human for another (something lepers never received) went against the groupthink that lepers must be shunned. They also went against the groupthink that such compassion is unrealistic, unrealistic because showing that kind of compassion would put them in harm's way (getting leprosy) and only the superhuman could love a leper. That's the kind of compassion Jesus calls us to. It's also the kind that makes God's demands to have sex only within a heterosexual marriage reasonable. That kind of compassion changes one's whole way of thinking -- instead of obsessing about eating, drinking, sleeping, and sex, one is tuned into thinking about justice and laughter and sharing. As one person I know put it, vibrate at a higher level.

God doesn't demand any more of a homosexual man than many single women who don't have a hope in hell of getting married. I think it comes down to the fact that God expects the same of both genders, but society expects more from a woman than a man, more self-control, more self-sacrifice, more fealty to God and to man. This demand only becomes onerous when you focus on it instead of focussing on why we were put here in the first place. That's how Saint Paul managed it.

"The Church splits theological hairs: Decry the sin, of homosexuality, but love and embrace the 'sinner.' This is blandly illogical."

No, not illogical, just a mind-numbing puzzle. Easier to call it illogical than to try and wrap one's mind around the fact that one can love a person but hate their behaviour, or in sin terms, one can love the person but decry the sin. We do it all the time in our personal relationships. We get hurt because the person we love attacks us. We still love the person, yet we don't like what they did -- their behaviour, their sin -- to hurt us. If we did not love them, they would not have the capacity to hurt us. Apply that concept to one's neighbour and that's how one can love the sinner but not the sin.

On her last note about the Ryerson protest, Rosie is right on. "You can't demand tolerance and not give it." And I would add you can't demand free speech and call for diversity without accepting diversity you disagree with.