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Pope speaking to nuns on gays

Published 11:35am Monday, October 1, 2012

A recent political cartoon in one of the Cities’ newspapers shows a severely-cartooned pope saying to favorably-cartooned “U.S. Nuns”: “I’m very upset with you for not speaking out against homosexuality!” The kicker is in the next frame, which pictures a cartooned Jesus and the pope adding, “Same goes for your friend.” The intended point — blatantly political and religiously irrelevant — is that Jesus never spoke out against homosexuality and, therefore, homosexuality is affirmed by God as a Christian virtue and part of God’s plan for marriage.

That it so happened Jesus himself never spoke out against homosexuality is irrelevant to the total biblical teaching on marriage and not an affirmation of homosexuality or same-sex “marriage.”

It is a fact there is no (recorded) statement attributed to Jesus as directly opposing homosexuality, and it is unlikely he ever mentioned it privately. But silence is no argument.

John, the disciple who listened most closely and understood Jesus best, closed his Gospel by insisting he did “many other things not recorded in this book.” Jesus understood his audiences and knew homosexuality was not an issue. He did, however, strongly affirm the Jewish standard of one-man, one-woman marriage as sacred.

(Even the polygamy of the pre-Jewish patriarchal era of the Hebrews that had been tentatively tolerated as primitive pending full understanding of the Mosaic Law was same-sex.)

We must read the whole Bible to see the whole picture. God’s Word is a good deal more than what he said through Jesus during the few years of his ministry. The Bible is not a book that is against homosexuality, and it certainly is not against homosexuals. It is for marriage as that which the Creator established for human relationships.

Yes, there are secondary direct sanctions against homosexuality, and they appear in many passages within the text. The tortuous attempts to explain them away succeed in nothing more than to be an acknowledgement of rejecting the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God. If one feels self-identification as GLBTQ is a matter of honesty, one must be honest about this.

Neither Jesus nor any other voice in the Bible condemns either homosexuality or homosexuals. As so with all other human failings (and it is this), it seeks lovingly and graciously to redeem the latter persons from the former condition. The biblical writers and all who preach and teach it truly earnestly wish for human wholeness.

(Any who do otherwise — and some today do — also fall short of apprehending the scriptures of the faith. I have other words for them.)

Churches and synagogues that present the Bible rightly welcome gays and lesbians to sincere worship of the holy God and receptive learning from his Word. They are loved because Jesus loves them.

What disappoints the pope about some American nuns is they have abdicated to fickle political correctness and surrendered the wholesomeness of God’s Word and the rich moral tradition of the church they pledge to serve.

What disturbs Catholic parishes is not that gays would attend mass, and I recognize from the outside the welcome there for them. But they expect to receive them as worshippers and not polemical preachers or political demonstrators. When they parade to the altar to receive the Eucharist brandishing rainbow sashes, they destroy a sacred moment and prostitute a sacrament. The resistance or even rejection is not because they are gay but spiritually unfaithful. Instead of approaching in humility, they confront with arrogance.

A state legislator, herself Catholic, asked me some years ago, “How many churches in Austin do you think welcome gays.” I was unable to give her a categorical answer of “all,” because there were problems some were yet working through, which problems were as much created by the gays themselves as it was learning to be comfortable and confident with gays.

Most churches are admittedly unprepared to deal with a drunk who stumbles into a worship service and attempts to pass a bottle around, because he intentionally taunts the church’s values. An acting-out gay who goes to a church for the purpose of embarrassing and discomforting the people because they won’t change their theology to suit him and affirm his moral choices cannot reasonably expect a warm and unqualified welcome.

The pope sought not to silence nuns but to speak to them so that they, like him and their church, respect and obey God’s creation of one-man/one-woman marriage as embraced by the redeeming love of his Son.

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