Sunday, March 10, 2013

Via, Veritas, Vita: A Reprise

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  --John 14:6 
I received a comment the other day on an older post of mine that made me think.  The post in question is in my series about the Churches of Christ and homosexuality.  From the title of this post, you may have guessed that it was a post titled "Via, Veritas, Vita."

The comment that started me thinking was in response to another comment from an anonymous reader.  The original comment stated:
Joe -- I also just stumbled across the articles, and although I haven't had a chance yet to read all of them, I plan to.

My father was a Church of Christ minister who had six kids. Of the four boys, one died at 13, and the rest are all gay. I struggled for years...married, had kids, etc. After I got divorced, I was finally able to live my life freely, but once I came out, I was lovingly escorted out of the church. There were other people at that congregation -- "liberal" by CofC standards -- who everyone knew were gay, but the rule was as long as it wasn't official, they were welcome. 

Ultimately, and somewhat ironically having spent decades drawing a distinction between the two groups, I joined the United Church of Christ. It still breaks my heart that I have been rejected by the church in which I spent 40 years, and I still have a lot of affection for the Church of Christ. My husband mentioned the other day that I seem to know where the local Church of Christ in every neighborhood in Southern California, and that wherever we travel, when we pass a Church of Christ I always point it out. 

God bless you, in a very literal sense, for what you are trying to do. It's very brave, and very important. If the Church of Christ came around on this issue, would I go back? In a heartbeat. But the more of us who leave, the less likely that is to happen....
The anonymous reply from another reader stated:
Come back to the Church. Let go of the strange life. You can love other men, you just can't have sex with them. Christ loved many men, but never lusted after them. John laid on His breast,Paul told the men to greet one another with a heavenly kiss (in the middle east it's still often practiced), so you can even kiss a man in Amish churches and churches that are liberal Amish. Just let go of the lust, you aren't 21 ya know. Let go.
Let me first say that, while I would love to see the writer of the first comment come back to the Church of Christ, I don't believe that he had strayed from the Church in what I believe is the church of the truly faithful, i.e. those who have faith believe in God's eternal love.  For me, that is the Church of Christ, for others it may be another church/denomination.  The truth is, I believe that our relationship with God is personal and our heart and the Holy Spirit that resides inside guides us to our relationship with God.

I also do not believe that the second anonymous commenter was speaking only (if at all) of the Churches of Christ.  When I first read it in my email, I did not realize it was left as a reply to another comment.  I thought he was speaking to me particularly.  The thing is, neither my first commenter or I have ever left the Church.  From the comment above, I know in my heart that the original commenter still believes in Christ as his Lord and Savior, as I do.  My faith in God has never wavered.  I may have questioned myself, but never God.

As for the comment about  "Christ loved many men, but never lusted after them," I do not believe that lust is a sin.  Lust is a natural human feeling, whether homosexual lust for someone of the same sex or heterosexual lust for someone of the opposite sex.  We have always had lust.  It is when we act on that lust that can be a problem.  I have been celebrate for a number of years, not particularly by choice, but I have still been celibate.  It does not mean that I have not been weak of the flesh in the past, but my years of celibacy has made me yearn for love over lust.  Whether or not sexual intercourse is involved, lust and love are separate feelings.  

Love is God, and God is love.  One day I hope to also find love in another man, though it will never lessen my love for God, because nothing ever could.  However, my love of God will strengthen my love of man, because we are his creation, and we should be grateful for all that God has created for us.


Jason Shaw said...

Such powerful passionate faith, very interesting, you know you're jolly lucky, many people would dearly love to have such a passionate faith in something such as yours.

naturgesetz said...

"I do not believe that lust is a sin. Lust is a natural human feeling, whether homosexual lust for someone of the same sex or heterosexual lust for someone of the opposite sex."

I think it's a question of how you define lust. In Matthew 5:28, it seems that Jesus regards lust as something to be avoided, not something inconsequential. I'd suggest that lust, in the sense of Matthew 5:28, must go beyond just attraction, which seems to be your understanding of it.

In his Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II identified that "beyond" as choosing to reduce another person to an object for one's own gratification.

Coop said...

I'm still chewing on the celibacy issue as a gay Catholic. The official church line is that gay people are still loved as humans but we're forbidden to act on our desires. Only straight married couples can do that.
The UCCSB wrote up an encouraging document that is if one can decipher the Bishop speaak.
I don't think I'm celibate by choice either. My bodily response *ahem* to hot men tells me that much. I hate to say, it but celibacy seems too much to ask.

The first commentor suffered what is probably a common phenomenon. Flawed human beings who can't accept them for who they are. I'd just join a different parish... but that's me. Commentator #1 needs to realize that it's not HIS problem, it's other people's problem. Jesus wouldn't drive anyone away.

Coop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coop said...

(I deleted a comment to edit it)... I've also been tempted to break with the Catholic church over this stuff. I feel more of an obligation to stay in than an overwhelming need to call myself Catholic. But where could I go? Am I just mad at what is emanating from Rome? Hey all the sexual absure and banking scandals get swept under the rug but the church won't allow dissent from it's flock on gay marriage, premarital sex and contraception.

I could launch into a sermon about whether or not the next pope can clean up corruption because he might have been up to his eyeballs in it.