Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No Hate


You see a lot of talk about "hate" these days.  A lot of people feel hated -- on both and all sides of the political and religious divide.

LGBT people often feel hated by conservatives and by people who belong to more conservative religions and by the Catholic Church.

And conservatives and people who belong to more conservative religions and members of the Catholic Church can also feel hated by LGBT people and their supporters.

And, I am not naive, I know that there is actual hatred out there.

So, I think we all need to consider a couple of things.

First of all, nobody should be hating anybody.  Short of that, nobody should be acting in an uncharitable manner toward anybody -- in thought, word, or deed.  I admit, I think particularly of Catholics here, because I am a Catholic and I hang around with a lot of Catholics.  I have seen Catholics who do not even attempt to understand the position of the LGBT community and their supporters concerning gay marriage and gay rights.  I have heard Catholic lay people and clergy express the opinion that the LGBT community wants to discriminate against us and persecute us.  Some Catholics have even said that the LGBT community would make martyrs of us -- not by killing us, mind you -- but, by forcing us to photograph and cater the food for and even officiate at their wedding ceremonies.  These attitudes, though, are not really expressions of hatred.  They are more expressions of fear.  And what I don't like is when influential Catholics stoke this fear with their words and deeds.  Because when fear is stoked, hatred can develop.  Now, to be fair, somebody told me that there was a case where a wedding photographer was sued -- and lost -- because she didn't want to photograph a same-sex wedding.  I don't know the details of this case.  Although, I have the feeling that there were probably some interpersonal missteps along the way.  Perhaps there were some misunderstandings that could have been resolved between the individuals before the whole situation became a legal conflict.  And this leads me to my next point.
Have we forgotten that we can disagree without hating?  Have we forgotten that we can RESPECTFULLY disagree, that we can live and let live?  This goes for ALL people -- religious, secular, conservative, progressive.  It is both fruitless and counter-productive to try to force somebody to accept your view of the world.  It is even more fruitless and counter-productive to accuse somebody or a whole group of people or an institution of hating you because you disagree over an issue -- even an important issue.  The Catholic Church, for example, has a very complex theology regarding marriage.  This theology has developed over 2000+ years.  It is reflective of how the Church views God and creation.  It is not meant to discriminate against anybody.  Are there people who use the Church's teaching to discriminate?  Yes.  And this is not right.  But, it is not the intent of the Church -- at least, I don't think it is -- to have her teachings used to discriminate against people.

On the other side of the coin, it is quite wrong -- and Pope Francis has spoken about this -- to try to force others into your religious views.  Respect for human dignity requires us to actually respect that others do not all accept the Catholic way of looking at things.  The Church also requires us to look at people and situations with compassion.  For example, I am the kind of person who has a hard time being alone in life.  It has always been quite valuable to me to have somebody to share myself with -- spiritually, emotionally, physically.  So, I can easily imagine being a lesbian and wanting to have a life partner.  I can imagine how hard it would be to be denied that, especially in the civil law.  I could understand if certain religions didn't want to perform my wedding ceremony, because of their long-standing theology.  But, I guess I would also feel discriminated against if religions were speaking about me and the person I loved as being harmful to society, especially if we just wanted to live a quiet life in peace.  I would also feel discriminated against if I could be legally married in my state and yet not allowed marriage benefits -- like social security -- on the federal level.  And I suppose having to live with all this lack of consistency in the law -- lack of consistency which would cause me and my spouse actual and concrete hardship -- might make me feel hated.  So, as a Catholic who tries to be compassionate, I put myself in the shoes of my lesbian sisters and have a desire to treat them fairly.

There are some who think that it is the job of Catholics to make the civil law reflect the Divine Law -- at least, the Divine Law as these particular Catholics see it.  The people who think this are not trying to be cruel to others of different ideas.  They just believe that the Catholic version of Divine Law will bring with it what they see as true justice, liberty, and equality.  The problem is, though, that there are too many different people of too many different ideas in our society.  And a lot of those people would feel discriminated against if they perceived that the Catholic Church was dictating how they lived their lives.  People need to be able to make their own choices -- especially about their adult lives -- as freely as possible.  Laws are necessary, yes.  But, a big function of the law -- in my opinion, anyway -- is to keep people from treading on each other unfairly.  We need to be able to co-exist, like that bumper sticker says.  Sometimes, I want to get a Reagan bumper sticker, an Obama bumper sticker, a Catholic bumper sticker, and one of those co-exist bumper stickers, and put ALL of them on my bumper.  Along with my Harley-Davidson sticker.  This is because I am, as my mother always said, a "shit-disturber."

I hope, then, that all of us -- secular and religious, conservative and progressive -- will strive to have more mutual understanding.  I hope that our government will strive to make laws which allow all of us to live lives of peace, according to our consciences.  I hope that people and institutions are not unfairly accused of hatred.  And I hope that where hatred does actually exist, that it is rooted out, in the only way it can actually be rooted out -- by love.

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