Sunday, October 11, 2015

Christians Need to Stop Hurting LGBT People

The bitter old men in dresses at the Vatican continue their farcical synod on the family and are making it very clear that LGBT families simply do not count under the Vatican's 13th century understanding of sexual orientation (I'd like to make them be limited to utilizing only 13th century medical treatment, if they think the 13th century provides all the answers).  Meanwhile, Sister Simone Campbell, the Executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, is call on the Vatican - and other homophobic denominations - to cease the harm being done to LGBT individuals.  Here are highlights from her post at Huffington Post:
I've been described as 'radical' by the Vatican; it's pretty funny really. I have no idea what some people find so radical about accepting 100 per cent of people on this earth.

As a movement, NETWORK, America's National Catholic Social Justice Lobby relates to everyone in society and that obviously includes the LGBT community. I've witnessed the amazing courage of folks in the LGBT community, who have come out and spoken publicly and respectfully on what had been taboo subjects. Because of their bravery, all of us have discovered we know at least someone - a friend, relative, colleague, whoever - who is LGBT, and I think that's been huge in moving society towards greater acceptance. 

I wonder if the challenge for some people in dealing with anxieties around sexual definition is their own lack of working through their sexual identity. When we're comfortable in ourselves, outside things can't threaten us. I know, when I'm nervous about something, it's usually got something to do with me and my own unresolved stuff. So I wonder that when folks are angry or judgmental or prejudiced if it's a reflection of their own insecurities. And I think there are some people within the Church, some priests and bishops included, that haven't wrestled with their own sexuality and instead spend a lot of time worrying about everybody else's. I think it comes from needing to judge others to feel better about oneself, or projecting onto others the things that one fears.

[T]he Bible doesn't really say anything about LGBT people. There is that line in the book of Leviticus, but really, give me a break! That is not the LGBT community as we in the 21st century understand it. Instead, what I see over and over in the gospels is Jesus walking towards all kinds of folks. The scriptures say repeatedly that you should walk towards everybody, no exceptions. If some folks have a sexual identity that's different to mine, so what? God doesn't make mistakes and if that's how folks are created, then that's a reflection of God's love too. We need to wake up to the fact that love is a wonderful thing, building families is a wonderful thing, and there are a variety of ways to do either.  

On our last bus tour, I met a young woman who had escaped from a program to 'cure' her of being gay. She's now married to her female partner and together they have a baby - she was just radiating joy! But then she started telling me that some years before, her Christian family had sent her away to a curing program. Her father - a preacher - told her that she was possessed by the devil, and she even came to believe that herself for a while. I don't know how she had the courage to break out of it, but five months in she ran away and hasn't had contact with her family since.

I could feel her anguish in the judgement from her family, but also her relief in being true to herself and trusting that she wasn't wrong or crazy or possessed.  

When folk hate or reject LGBT people, it affects the person who is doing the hating. If you spend your energy being fearful and criticizing others, that anger erodes who you are and really limits the joy and love that Jesus calls us to. 

For me, that means we have to listen to people rather than making assumptions about them. Anyone can create their own theory and feel very sure about what LGBT people are or are not, but when you meet people it changes everything. Talk to people. Be open and accept the truth of who people are. That's all we need to do.

I love the shots she takes at the Church hierarchy.  Would that Sister Simone was the pope.

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