Often western media is filled with news of “same-sex” marriage. The Supreme Court of the United States of America has approved the so called “same-sex” marriage in most the states of country. Most European countries have done the same. These national policies come with many challenges for everyone in the respective countries. Often many questions are raised:
– How can a civil court impose its “immoral” and “unreasonable” issue into the religious sphere?
– Does this verdict respect the opinion of the majority?
– How do we understand religious freedom in this context?
– Can a small minority of people take the entire nation into hostage?
At this juncture the people who claim to have homosexual orientation demand rather unreasonable demands such as the following: Religious leaders who oppose homosexual marriage should be removed from office. All Christian denominations should honour such marriages, Bible publishers should be arrested for publishing Bible with verses that offend homosexuality, etc.
We all know that most economically developed countries of the western world have approved homosexual behaviour patterns, approved “same-sex” marriages and even push for their ways of doing things on the other countries. We also witness that many developing countries including countries of oriental and traditional nature are debating over it—to accept and approve these behaviour or not to. Often this debate takes political and judicial turns. We witness people taking sides in the direction of morals, ethics, social and religious. Indeed it is a pressing issue in different aspects of human life taken individually and communally. Though many things are said on this sensitive issue I often feel that as Christians with traditional cultures we do not understand this pastoral issue in all its nuances.
It is true that for a good practicing and morally upright “sexually straight” Catholic this deviated sexual orientation (as most of us believe to be) is disgusting and causing an aversion in our soul, mind and body. It is understandable. I used to feel the same when I first came across homosexual behaviour and practices in the USA during my course of theological/pastoral studies. To see it and hear of it from my fellow students and professors was a first-hand experience. I struggled hard to overcome it. People I interacted with were intellectually well-informed, spiritually trained, and professing Christians/Catholics.
I understood that is not just a moral problem as often our stakeholders in Uganda consider it. The problem touches spiritual, psychological, social and biological aspects of life. It is very difficult to evaluate, assess and pass a judgment on the issue and more especially on those who claim to be oriented. I often appreciate our Catholic church that tries its best to be cautious and charitable on this issue unlike our protestant brethren. But this does not mean that we are condoning the issue or we are pushing it aside.
It is not as simple as to say – the homosexuals should repent, re-orient, change, etc. It is a lifelong process that involves integral formation of the individual. Unfortunately, our faith-community (Church) does not have clear pastoral approach to it. Indeed it is difficult to do it. We are now being pushed into different directions by politicians, social activists and other stakeholders of the society.
But now we as leaders and faithful of the church need to be very charitable towards this issue, and especially to the people who suffer this orientation and those who subscribe to this way of life. But surely we cannot allow outright acceptance of all the behaviour homosexuals portray or fight for it in the name of human rights and equal rights. We need to draw a line between what are human rights and what is really right as humans, which is also a very hard task. We need to apply our human sensitivity together with our well-founded faith. Let us honestly ask how many of us really have this human and godly quality. We need to pray for gifts of nature and grace to deal with this pastoral issue.
We as pastors of the Church let us not allow half-backed solutions, judgments and more so condemnations especially on homosexual oriented brothers and sisters. The best think we can do is to pray and ask for the wisdom of the Spirit in dealing with this human and Christian issue. In all these “Let Christ’s love prevail”.
Fr. Lazar Arasu SDB