I was very moved this morning when I saw a friend of mine -- a lovely young lady who is involved in a same-sex relationship -- express her sadness over all the friends she has lost because of her "lifestyle."
This young lady was raised in a very conservative Catholic home. She went to a very conservative Catholic college. Don't get me wrong, though. Her parents love her very much and I believe her relationship with them (and with her siblings) is very positive. I also know that she still has many friends from college who love her and support her. But, I am also fairly sure that a lot of the friends she has lost were of the religious conservative variety.
And this is quite unfortunate.
Now, some people who have distanced themselves from her may very likely still be her friends. They are probably just uncomfortable with the situation and don't know how to behave. Perhaps, with more maturity and reflection on the matter, they may again show her their friendship.
Some friends she has lost, though, may believe that by showing her friendship in a nonjudgmental way that they are somehow condoning her situation and contributing to her "sinfulness." Some of them may also be actively angry and disgusted with her. And these attitudes, in my opinion, are wrong.
What is it that makes a friend? Why should we be friends with somebody? A friend is someone of good character. A person you can trust and count on. A person who is kind and charitable. You don't have to agree on everything -- even "important" things. You don't even have to entirely approve of each others' lives. And you can accept a person, without accepting every opinion or action of that person -- even if those opinions or actions are "important."
And for those of us who call ourselves "Christian," we need to approach all others with the recognition of our own fallen nature. Every single person who is my friend is friends with a sinner. And I count myself the worst of all.
People know that I am a Catholic. My young woman friend knows I am a Catholic. So, she probably knows what my objective beliefs are. I don't have to rub her nose in them. I can just be her friend.
And what about her relationship. I respect it as her relationship. I believe her when she tells me that she loves her girlfriend. I enjoy her friendship. And I pray for all of us, without considering her to be any worse than I.
One of my daughters knows a gay man who has a spouse who is a gay man. She considers this man to be her good friend. In many situations, he has certainly acted as a friend to her. He knows she is a devout Catholic -- and he supports her in her faith. My daughter, though, has taken considerable heat from some of her "good" Catholic friends for calling this man her friend and for referring to his spouse as "his spouse." But, he has proven himself -- in his actions -- to be her friend. And she told me that she is going to respect his relationship by referring to it as he does. He, for his part, understands her position on the theological definition of sacramental "marriage." And he does not consider her to be a bigot or a "hater."
I really admire my daughter in her friendship with this man. I admire that she doesn't back down in her charity out of fear of losing the approval of other "religious" people. I admire her kindness and the true respect she shows her friend. To me, the relationship she has with this man should be a blueprint for how society should act in the face of all the controversy over the gay "lifestyle" and gay marriage.
Many people are tossing around the words of Pope Francis concerning gay marriage. To paraphrase, I believe he referred to it as a trap laid by the devil to trick the children of God. I would put forth a couple of thoughts about this. I read an article by a gay activist describing the interactions he had with the Pope when he was still a Cardinal in Argentina. The activist said that the Cardinal was actually very kind and understanding in their conversations -- even when the gay man talked about his same-sex relationship. The Pope, when he was a Cardinal, acted toward the homosexual person with charity. He didn't make him feel judged and condemned. He didn't refuse to associate with him. Secondly, there is more than one kind of trap that can be laid by the devil here. And I believe that the temptation to treat homosexual people -- even when they express the desire to marry -- with contempt and anger and scorn is, perhaps, the worst temptation of all.
And just in case you thought you were going to escape hearing about Ben McKenzie today, well... ;)
In the November elections, Mr. McKenzie did some rare Tweeting. Mr. McKenzie is an Obama person. And one of his Tweets was expressing his happiness that a gay woman had been elected to Congress. I -- as you are aware -- really like Mr. McKenzie. I think he is classy and intelligent. And I think his opinions -- even when different than mine -- are well thought out. He has also been very kind to my younger daughter when she was not feeling well. Although, he probably doesn't know that. So, when he "Tweeted," about this newly-elected Congresswoman, I thought about it. And I realized that many, many people still have ugly, mean, nasty attitudes about homosexual people. This is not right. This really should change. So, I do understand the happiness of the gay community and people who are pro-gay rights when homosexual people are elected to public office. And I hope these elections -- and friendships like I and my daughter have with gay people -- will help to create in society more true kindness toward individuals with same-sex attraction. For even if there are issues of theology and public policy on which there are disagreements, perhaps those disagreements can be discussed in an atmosphere that is truly and actually charitable.