February 15, 2019

On two recent episodes of the podcast The Robot and the Unicorn, podcaster Alex Cox discussed with her co-host, Kathy Campbell, about her history with religion and the Catholic Church.

What struck me about her experience is how she felt a sense of community in the Church, which after coming out as gay turned into fear or hesitation.

Like Alex, I was raised Catholic and studied in a Catholic school. So while I am straight, I can somewhat relate to her experience in the sense that I've been in this environment of intolerant views towards the LGBT+ community.

I'm not saying all Christians hate people who are LGBT+, but even with many who are tolerant there is still at times a belief or feeling that it is something unusual or wrong.

I don't believe that this kind of mindset or treatment is right, from both a purely ethical or Christian perspective. So while I cannot speak for the LGBT+ community, I do have 12 years of Catholic school plus an introductory Theology course worth of knowledge. With that, I want to present here an argument from a Christian perspective on why being LGBT+ is not a sin and should be accepted.

A bit of a disclaimer: Since I am neither gay nor a theologian, I admit that my argument may not be perfect either from the perspective of the LGBT+ community or Christian theology. If you feel that there are any mistakes, please don't hesitate to contact me about it.

God Does Not Hate

To directly answer the question in the title, God does not hate gays for the simple reason that God does not hate anyone. While this does not prove that homosexuality is not a sin (which I will address in the second section), it is important to know why God does not hate.

In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said:

I say to you, love your enemies ... For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? ... And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? ... So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

There is also this famous passage, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

These two passages (and many others) show that God loves all human beings. In the first passage, Jesus challenges his disciples to be like God and do what is difficult---to love their enemies. Because of God's love and lack of hate for his creation, he sacrificed himself. God became human to feel the hate, the pain, and suffering we inflict on others. Consequently, all the hate we give to others is hate directed at God.

As Jesus says in Matthew 25:45:

what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.

God only has love, and God is love. Hate directed at someone in the name of God is calling some false god, and not the God of Abraham. Despite any person's sinfulness, God's love is infinite in that He is always ready to forgive when we ask for it. God does not abandon any one of His creations.

As St. Paul says in Romans 5:1-11:

[A]t just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

All this applies to more than just hate against the LGBT+ community, and should be remembered when considering anything people claim God/Jesus teaches. Many people preach "The Good News", but don't actually know that "The Good News" is God's infinite and unconditional love for all of humanity.

Having Love, but Still Believing Homosexuality is a Sin

It is completely possible to truly and wholeheartedly love someone who is LGBT+ and still believe that homosexuality (or any other non-straight orientation) is a sin. It is part of God's teachings to forgive sinners and to help them overcome sin.

People with this mindset, though misguided, have motivations in love. I believe that they don't want people who are LGBT+ to feel uncomfortable or hated. Rather, they want the LGBT+ to know that they are loved and that they can overcome their sinfulness. But I don't believe homosexuality is a sin, and I hope I can explain why.

Homosexuality is not a sin

In the popular passage, 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul says:

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. ... faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The love St. Paul speaks about is a kind of unconditional love—love that is not romantic, sexual, or familial. It is the kind of love God has for His creation and what we should have for each other. Loving unconditionally is selfless love, to love because it is good.

By definition, to be gay means to love someone of the same sex. The whole concept of being LGBT+ is rooted in loving people who society tells you not to love. While this love may be romantic or sexual, the kinds of relationships that develop from LGBT+ couples has the same potential to be as deep and meaningful as straight relationships. There is still potential for this kind of love to progress towards unconditional love. Preventing or repressing people's ability to develop their ability to love still shows the danger of lacking love St. Paul talks about.

According to St. Paul, faith and hope don't matter without love. A Catholic who thinks homosexuality is a sin can be considered faithful because they are following the teachings of the Church, they can also be hopeful that the LGBT+ may realize their sinfulness, but they do not love because they deny others their love.

Here is a passage from 1 John 4:7-21:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. ... if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Therefore because the LGBT+ community loves, then they are begotten by God and knows God. They are God's children as much as the non-LGBT are, yet they are persecuted for it. How then can we say that we are Children of God when we deny others the ability to love that God has given all of us.

In a vision to St. Peter, God said (Acts 10:15):

“What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”

This vision was in the context of the inclusion of Gentiles (meaning non-Jews) into the Church. Before this part of Church History, Gentiles were seen as "unclean" by the Jews as they did not follow God's law (called the Torah). With this vision, God is telling St. Peter---who is basically Pope---that this should no longer be the case.

Like the Gentiles during this time, the LGBT+ community in the present are being excluded from the Church because they are being seen as "unclean" or "dirty". The times changed, Jesus had died for all of humanity's sins, and so the Gentiles were first brought into the Church. I don't see a reason why the same thing can't be done today in the context of being LGBT+ in the Church. Why should a person who is completely devoted and faithful God be excluded solely because of who they choose to love?

A short note about gay sex and gay marriage:

I'll be honest, I'm much more knowledgable with the Gospels than I am with Sacraments, but from my understanding the Sacrament of Matrimony mainly does two things: bonds a couple for life and requires them to produce children who will be raised as Christians. The problem is mainly with that second one.

Technology has advanced a lot since the rules for the Sacraments were fully established. LGBT+ people have various ways of having children now, such as adoption, surrogates, or sperm donors. It is fully possible for an LGBT+ couple to raise children in the Church, and so I see no problem with introducing gay marriage into Christianity.

In terms of gay sex, pre-marital sex of any kind is considered a sin by Christian doctrine---it's even banned in my very Catholic college's rulebook. Therefore, pre-marital gay sex is as sinful as straight sex. Also, while pre-marital sex is a sin, it doesn't seem like many Christians care very much. So a gay Christian should have as much guilt about sex as a straight Christian (which ususally isn't much).

For sex after marriage, its purpose is not just procreation, but unification---which would still be true in an LGBT+ marriage.

LGBT+ Christians Are More Christian Than Straight Christians

In the podcast, Alex mentioned that she still goes to mass despite knowing how other people in the church see her. She doesn't say exactly why she still goes to mass and maybe she doesn't know herself.

For many Catholics, the decision to go to mass is not really a choice. Usually, they were raised Catholic and so have gone to mass with their family their entire life. Attending mass is probably second to only praying as the simplest thing a Catholic can do to show faith.

But it's different for those who are LGBT+, they have a very good reason for not wanting to go to mass. And so for someone who is LGBT+ to make a conscious decision to attend mass shows greater faith and love than any other churchgoer.

Straight Christians only have to sacrifice time to express their faith, but LGBT+ Christians sacrifice not only their time but in many cases their safety. Attending mass or any kind of liturgy or sacrament becomes martyrdom. To me, that shows real bravery and faithfulness, more than many Christians can admit to having themselves.

As Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12:

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

(I would like to thank my Theology/Writing professor for reading and giving me helpful comments on this post. This topic is far more nuanced and complicated than I initially thought, and even a little guidance was a big help)

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