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November 03, 2010

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Mrs. Cline (@nataliejanette)

(I follow you on twitter and saw this today.)

I have a couple things to say, as a Christian with (gasp) fantastic, wonderful, considerate, loving, non-judgemental gay friends. MARRIED, gay friends, who have been with me through the trenches and helped me up when my own marriage was struggling. Married, gay friends who aren't recognized by the state of Ohio. Who have to each maintain full-time employment so that they may have insurance benefits, when one of them would much rather be the SAHM she's always dreamed of being.

For her, for your brother, for all gays, I WISH that they could have the honor of being treated as equal by ALL people. I wish that people would stop being so damn stupid & judgemental and I wish that the church, FOR GOD'S SAKE - THE CHURCH - would stop making people feel unwelcome, unloved, and even ashamed.

Jesus instructs us to "come to me" and to "call on me" and as far as I know, there aren't ( ) behind his words that say (all ye who are saved and holy and straight!!)

My own views on homosexuality and my choice to love my dear friends has even caused me ridicule from my brother-in-law, the Pastor. Ridiculous. While I will NEVER, ever understand the discrimination my friends face, I will always, ALWAYS stand by them. Not because they are gay and they need my support, but because they are my friends, whom I love dearly. They are women, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. They deserve just as much happiness as the next person.

And really? If there are two people who can make a marriage work, and be loyal and raise a family and provide for themselves, who the heck are we to say what orientation they should be?? Shouldn't everyone deserve to be happy??

And not that you need my accolades, but good for you for speaking up, and also for continuing to raise your sweet son in the church, and teaching him about the all encompassing love of God.

{Thanks for allowing me to rant...}

Natalie

Nathan

Thanks for sharing Erin. It took a lot to write this, I'm sure...

Know that there are options here in Birmingham for people with beliefs like yours.

Jennifer Dome

Thanks for sharing this, Erin. It's very powerful to read. I'm Catholic too and have found it hard to find a "home church" here, as Southerners say, because I, too, am progressive and disagree deeply with many of the Church's teachings. Still, I also keep going back. But more and more infrequently because I do feel so turned off by what they preach, re: homosexuals, birth control, etc. Maybe we should start a small group for progressive Catholics!

Wade Kwon

I applaud you for writing this and sharing it with the world. Through discussion and understanding, we can do better.

Wade Kwon

One question: By continuing to go, is it implied consent by attendance? This is a challenge each of us faces in groups we belong to, whether religious, corporate, social or charity.

Can we help the organization from within? Or are we fooling ourselves?

Ree_tweets

Thanks for sharing your experience, Erin.

I have many gay friends, some married, some not. One married couple are now expecting their first child--in Oklahoma, which is very similar to Alabama in terms of challenges to gay couples.

It is tough to have good, open discussions about gay rights and the unequivocal acceptance of individuals who happen to be gay, especially in the South and especially now as civility in political/social discourse has all-but-disappeared.

But the only way to move toward a better world is to engage and interact with those who have different viewpoints.


meg

I appreciate your experience and your views but honestly why is it "self righteous" for people to express their views which also happen to be the views of 3000 years of Christianity and Judaism? I'm not going to argue the issue but merely your premise that your expression of your views aren't self-righteous but others' are simply because of what they believe.

It's off-putting.

ScottW

Erin, while I read this I was reminded of my own feelings towards same-sex couples and gays/lesbians, and although I don't at this time agree with their lifestyle I try to be open-minded about it. After all, who am I to judge others? Who is to say my lifestyle is so great and perfect?

My point here I guess is that we as a people, need to be more open-minded about each other and stop demanding we fit this mold of what is perceived to be the 'perfect fit for society'. Go with what's within us, listen to our own minds and hearts. We were born with a brain at birth. Listen to it instead of the talking-heads who think they know what's best for us. They're usually wrong anyway.

May sound a little sappy but as one who walks his own path of political incorrectness, I loathe the institutions who demand we follow a certain doctrine or be thought of as outcasts in society. Guess that's one reason why I stopped attending church so many years ago. Got tired of being preached 'at' about their beliefs and what I should do or not do. For me, God and religion are in the heart and mind, not in any given building.

Honestly? It's what's in our own hearts and minds we need to listen to. Not that of the so-called chosen few who believe they speak for all. We have our own paths in life to travel. We can either choose to be led, or to lead. It's our decision.

Erin

Thanks for everyone's comments. I was dragging my feet going to church today, but so glad that I went. We heard from a visiting priest who spoke with eloquence and a conviction that encouraged me to continue to attend the church in which I was raised.

I will certainly keep speaking up, even if it's "off-putting." And I hope other people will too, even if I don't agree with them. Civililty, kindness, and compassion are key to the dialogue. Thanks for sharing.

LaureeAshcom

your honesty and openness is so wonderful... speaking up for what you find disturbing is always important. what i continue to find is that each side feels like the other side of any issue is disrespectful of their opinions.... sad.. i am not sure that there is any truly civil discourse...

i am not catholic so i can't address any denominational issues but i do think that there are issues that are true in any denomination. do we believe that what our church has as a "rule" is truly God's rule? how is love truly reflected in the lives of people who say that they believe in God? what is sin? are some sins bigger than others?

to me these are the questions that cause division and disagreement in a church. you have to do what you think is right but always ask God to show you what is true and be willing to change your stand. that is a hard thing for anyone because it involves our pride..... if we speak up we can't help but change the group we are in and give others the courage to speak up as well... but we have to be willing to be responsible for the direction we head the group in.

i don't know if any of this makes sense but i appreciate your blog... keep writing and being honest....

mediumbashfulpiggy

things about me:

i was raised catholic, until i was about 13 years old when our parish's views of women's roles in the church turned my mother (and by extension, our family) into episcopalians.

my father is gay. i was thrilled to hear you say "it’s not a big issue for my family. we don’t understand why it is for other people" because that's my experience, too. i don't relate at all to the prevailing reactions i get from people finding out that my father is gay, which are generally something akin to discomfort or googly-eyed giddiness at the sheer novelty of it. in the scheme of things, finding out my father is gay registers somewhere around finding out what i was having for dinner that night. i don't really care that people think it *should* be a grenade explosion in my life; it simply wasn't.

i'm glad you spoke up, because i know facing down a room full of "well-intentioned" people isn't easy. and i absolutely understand your fury.

because being gay isn't a "lifestyle," please. i cannot fathom a room full of people sitting in a circle talking about whether they "agree" that i am 5'3". it's unequivocally self-righteous to come to a consensus on whether or not you'd go to the wedding of a short person, or support that below-average-height person's right to have children. you believe you are better, because you are taller, which isn't something you had the slightest bit of control over to start with. if you don't want to be gay, be grateful you aren't. that's all the opinion you really get to have on the subject. it isn't a matter of agree or disagree, it's a matter of is and isn't.

if you think being gay is a choice, or a sin, you are wrong. the end. sputter mightily about 3,000 years of judeo christian beliefs if you must; that's never going to be a compelling argument. (there's a lot of 3,000-year-old stuff in there that's just completely whackadoodle.)

erin, i appreciate your struggle even though i don't share it. (i haven't been to church in years aside from attending some of those crazy straight folks' marriage parties.) but i know what it feels like to muscle through a world that thinks it gets a vote about the people you love. so, for what it's worth, i'm right there with you. it may be a small group, but it's a good one.

Abbi Masters

Jenn, Erin, it's good to know that there are other progressive Catholics trying to find a place to fit in. While I've never been a fan of the small group thing either, a small group with like minded souls like us would be, I think, really interesting and fun.

Jonathan

Erin, I just ran across this post nearly 2 months later off a link from FB. I am going to offer a very different perspective from most comments above, and I apologize in advance for doing so if it comes across as anything but curious and a bit sorrowful. But I simply must ask: If you disagree with the Catholic Church's stance on, what, at least three issues by my count (gay marriage, woman priests, and birth control), why on earth do you remain Catholic? I am a recent Catholic convert from Evangelical Protestantism, largely making the leap because of the RCC's solid and non-wavering stance on issues I saw nearly all Protestant denominations caving on. Being a Roman Catholic, at least as concerns the moral life, requires my bending the knee to THE Church that Jesus founded and gave the authority to proclaim THE faith. Disagreeing with the Church on its well-settled stances relating to faith and morals is a denial of the Church's authority to know and pass on the truth. Do you really wish to belong to, or be affiliated with, an entity which you believe can and probably has taught error on major moral issues?? Really? Your post is reminiscent of typical Protestantism which has elevated the individual to a position of doctrinal authority superior to that of the Church with which he/she remains in communion. Yet you say that you can't tear yourself away. Why not? Surely the Passing of the Peace is not sufficient to keep you genuflecting. You, and the multitude of progressives on this thread who have said they are Catholic, should sincerely consider why you remain Catholic. You already deny the Church's authority and ability to do the only job she has ever been given. You are, in short, Protest-ants in all but name, so why not admit as much and actually begin Protest-ing the Church?

If you wish to attend a church with a hodgepodge of theological potpourri where one can believe generally anything one wishes, Protestantism offers thousands of options, many of which offer plenty of Catholic-looking and Catholic-sounding liturgies. True, they lack the catholicity of faith you find in the Creed every Sunday, the certainty over topic of importance to one's faith and morals, and the spiritual nourishment of the Eucharist. But they have a relaxed view of modern sexual proclivities, so I suppose it all evens out.

Erin, I don't know you and doubt we've ever met. I don't want you to leave the Catholic Church, for I believe Christ gave us the Church to lead us to Him, and I want all to enjoy heaven forever. But I hate to see fellow Catholics who think, or hope, or believe, or wish that the Roman Catholic Church is going to alter or change or water-down or weaken its stance on a moral issue such as homosexual intercourse (or birth control, or polygamy, or masturbation). Painfully emotional or not, close-to-home or not, the Church will always speak with one voice on matters of faith and morals. I celebrate this and rest in the security of knowing that my own eternal fate does not depend on my getting lucky in a game of theological guesswork. Knowing and having to conform to certain moral teachings isn't always easy, as it forces me to refrain from all manner of conduct that the natural inclinations and tendencies of my flesh push me towards. But wishing my tendencies to be morally ok, simply because they are my own, or those of someone whom I love dearly, does not actually have the magical effect of changing reality.

I will pray for you at Mass, and for your family. Not a prayer that you or others in your family will "see the light," I should add. You know the Church's teachings, I don't need to repeat them. But rather, I will pray that God helps you determine where you should go on your journey of faith. Merry Christmas, and may the Peace of Christ be with you.

Ann

Also posting late here--I found my way via a link on Facebook. I went through what you're going through for probably three years until I finally left the church--after 29 years as a Catholic--this spring. My mother is in the same place I was and you are, feeling at odds with so many church teachings but also reluctant to leave something that's been so important to her her entire life. I attend an Episcopal church now (although I haven't been confirmed and don't know if I will be), and I cried my way through my first three services there because it wasn't where I wanted to be.

Jonathan--I can't speak for Erin, but I certainly can speak for myself as to why it was so wrenching to leave the Catholic church. It may be different for you as a converted Catholic, but for me, the church was home. It wasn't a book of doctrines and a place to pray on Sundays--it was something I'd lived my entire life. And over that time, I'd identified things I agreed with and things I felt conflicted about, but that's the way it is with any family, and it even seemed that the church was becoming more open to examining its own doctrine in the context of the changing world (not changing the doctrine, of course, but recognizing the changes in its impact and influence).

But over time (and I don't know what the turning point was, or if there was just one), it seemed that the church was responding to changes in society by turning in on itself and becoming more insular and self-protective. Every time it seemed threatened by something--increased knowledge of the AIDS crisis in Africa, therapeutic abortion, abusive priests--it just hardened further into its little shell, and while all of the ultra-believers on the inside, the rest of us who still had perfectly reasonable and human questions and doubts were left outside with no way to get back in. I prayed until I made myself sick to find a way to reconcile with the church, to believe what I would need to believe to get back in, but I just couldn't. And that was even worse, knowing what I was supposed to believe and wanting it so very badly but not being able to have it. It sounds kind of flippant to say "If God wanted me to believe that, He would make me believe it," but that's all I have. I tried so very hard.

And that's basically what it came down to, for me. The Catholic church was telling me God wanted one thing, but when I talked with Him myself, He told me something else. It wasn't about bending a knee to the church; it was about bending the knee to the Father. Leaving the church was like losing an arm--it was something I knew I had to do, but it left a huge hole in me that really hasn't entirely healed (and probably won't). Screw giving up "the security of knowing" about "my own eternal fate"--I was giving up spiritual and emotional limbs.

Honestly, your comment seems rather harsh and presumptuous, considering the horrendous conflict Erin may well be going through right now (if her experience is anything like mine). Dismissing her connection to the church as merely the "Passing of the Peace," a "hodgepodge of theological potpourri," looking for somewhere she "can believe generally anything [she] wishes," a "relaxed view of modern sexual proclivities," ignores the fact that Catholicism has been part of her entire life in a way that a recent convert can't possibly understand. (And it ignores it in a fairly snotty way.) The church is far, far more than just doctrine, and "the only job she has ever been given" is far more than the passing down of authority. God willing, as you spend more time in the church, you'll come to understand that, and you may find that it enriches your faith in a way you could never have predicted.

Erin, good luck with everything. Whether you stay or go, I hope you're able to find a place that works for you. The not-knowing is the worst part. God bless.

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