“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’”
Jennifer Fulwiler wrote an article several months ago documenting a conversation she had with an old friend who had chosen an “alternate” lifestyle. She handled it remarkably well and admirably defended her Catholic faith throughout the awkward affair. However, the culture is moving toward the mandatory approval of these lifestyles and repercussions for those who question them. The issue hits much closer to home when those we know and love, whether through friendship or by parental or filial relationship, begin to demand this approval.
The Catholic Church has clearly articulated its stance on marriage as the God-intended union between one man and one woman, open to procreation. The arguments against the morality of alternative unions have been soundly articulated ad exacerbatium and need not be hashed out here, though the authority of the Church alone should be decisive for faithful Catholics. So what of those near to us who feel these desires deep within their hearts?
First of all, any one of those who struggles against them as against a personal fault is fully within God’s will. Their heroic efforts demand our praise and encouragement to any degree to which they are known to us.
Those who choose to act on and embrace these tendencies rarely hold a neutral stance toward those who view their actions as wrong. Through a deliberative rationalization they choose to redefine their very identity in accordance with these deep desires. Having “become” an entity anew, they appeal to love, friendship, or justice and civil rights to be recognized as such by all. Those who refuse are currently dismissed as bigots, but stronger measures are unlikely to be disregarded as the climate continues to change.
So again, what of those who are close to us? Here some clarifications may be helpful. Aristotle defines love as “willing the good of another for the sake of the other”. Love as demanded by God is not a mere amicable feeling – it is an act of the will. All we offer them as close friends and loved ones should promote that which is truly good for them. We should rejoice as our loved ones ascend to virtue and be saddened as they slip into vice, just as God would.
But invariably those demanding our approval for disordered lifestyles will see their own lifestyles not as disordered, but good. And they will regard our reactions as hateful, not loving. To what degree should our attitudes be altered to fit their perceptions? They should not. It must be understood that if there is one ultimate good, those who regard it as evil are disordered, and their perceptions are skewed as one with a sickness of the soul.
Both sides make a claim to reality. The Catholic view claims the perspective of original sin. A living person is not what (s)he is ultimately intended to be. While there is indeed pleasure in marriage and romantic relationships, they, like all aspects of life, are merely preparations for our ultimate fulfillment in heaven. As such, the associated pleasures are ultimately incidental. Our desires are not yet in accord with what is truly good. Part of our growth as humans lies in mortifying our desires, even good ones.
The view of the LGBT proponent is fundamentally different. As mentioned before, they define themselves by these desires and proceed to demand recognition and approval for the identity they have chosen. By extension, human nature, rather than being an immutable absolute, is whatever they make it out to be. What they demand of us as friends is the denial of the transcendence of human nature beyond personal preferences, and the sanctioning of the self-defined self. In doing so, however, our consciences would be deemed irrelevant.
Such is the cost of these friendships to the degree that these demands are made. We are certainly called to pray for them, since God’s love for them is so much greater than our own. However, God reserves His friendship for those who keep His commands. Given an ultimatum between approval and the loss of friendship, the more faithful course would be the latter. We deceive ourselves if we suppose the sadness we feel at the loss of their friendships compares to the aggrievement of God at the loss of their souls.