a rainbow church
Who doesn’t love a rainbow? From Rainbow Brite dolls and Care
Bears, to Lucky Charms cereal, rainbows are marketed to children as symbols
of happiness and hope. A rainbow after a storm makes everyone stop and
marvel at its beauty. A double rainbow graced the sky on the way to our
honeymoon, and again during our 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
We took it as a sign not only of God’s love, but as a blessing
on our own covenant.
Today, the rainbow has become a universal symbol for LGBT
(lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights. It’s a perfect symbol
for promoting a world where equality and diversity can walk hand in hand,
counteracting a black-and-white world of categorizations and judgments.
But, we still have a long way to go to live in a truly rainbow society.
If you speak out for gay rights in a conversation or a
discussion board, there is a good chance that a well-versed Christian
will quote Scripture denouncing homosexuality. If the Christian is a
Catholic, then the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be added to
the apologetics arsenal. Reminders will be given that homosexual acts
are “acts of grave depravity” and “intrinsically
disordered.” The only moral choice given to homosexual persons
is to live a life of chastity. The church does insist that any kind of “unjust
discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” In simple terms,
we must love the sinner and hate the sin. But, it’s not so simple.
My own Catechism is dog-eared, with more highlighted lines than not. There was a time when I happily turned to it for answers to faith questions. It was easy. Check the index, find the correct quote and offer it as a definitive response. No further questioning was required.
of course, gave the answer added weight.
As the years went by, I learned that faith is not always
so simple, especially with moral issues. Merely quoting scriptures and
catechisms lets you off the hook. It doesn’t force you to dialogue with that great
grey in-between that often exists. It doesn’t force you to look
at the bigger picture — to see the good in each of us, as well
as the weakness and sin we all bear to one extent or another. And, it
can also lead to blind condemnation and righteous judgment.
Uganda attained international notoriety in 2009 for proposing
an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that not only outlawed homosexuality, but
allowed for the death sentence in cases of “aggravated homosexuality.” This
deeply entrenched intolerance is too often rooted in and rationalized
by references to Scripture and fiery evangelical sermons.
Uganda might be a poster child for extreme homophobia,
but tell people often enough, and in harsh enough language, that homosexuality
is evil and a sin and the need for understanding and compassion is removed.
Couch religious beliefs in battle terminology of good vs. evil, and you
can expect judgmental extremism. You can expect hatred. You can expect
persecution meted out in the name of religion. You can expect cruel bullying
in schools and workplaces. You can expect suicides from those who feel
they can no longer live in a world that doesn’t accept them as
I have many friends who are actively part of the LGBT community. And, yes, they are Catholic. Faith-filled women and men, they refuse to believe that being a gay Catholic is an oxymoron. They refuse to live a secretive existence and refuse to be pushed out of the church they love.
They do not want a more “tolerant” church and society. After all,
how would you feel if you were happily told that you were “tolerated” by
others? No, they are actively promoting an open, welcoming, inclusive,
truly catholic church that can embrace, support and bless loving relationships
between two men or two women. They believe it is a gospel imperative
to follow in the footsteps of a loving Jesus who welcomed all around
In May, President Obama made headlines when he shared publicly that his
views have evolved from accepting civil unions for gays, to a personal
acceptance of gay marriage. The evolution came from observing gay friends
and staff who were raising children in monogamous, loving relationships.
This same evolution is slowly happening in society. Gay
and lesbian couples, who model a life of integrity in their relationships,
show us that their committed love helps build society. It does not threaten
it. Slowly but surely, more young women and men are able to “come out” to
family, friends and peers knowing they will be accepted and loved for
who they are. The evolution is also taking place in our language, where
bigotry and demeaning terminology, even in jest, is no longer acceptable.
We must hope for this evolution to spread within our church. May we evolve from a community that is too often perceived in black-and-white doctrinal terms to a community reflected in the multicoloured hues of a rainbow, melding into one glorious sign to the world of God’s great love for us all.
Moyer is a Catholic blogger (http://catholicdialogue.com) who lives with her husband David in Neepawa, MB. She is president of the International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities, a canonically recognized, private association of the faithful whose charism promotes a Marian model of church that is inclusive, egalitarian, participatory and concerned with social justice.