When I watch the news, listen to bad journalism on the radio, or see a banal post by some anti-Catholic on social media, I get a feeling akin to having my stomach inverted. It’s like someone is twisting my small intestine and trying to make it switch places with my large intestine. It is a combination of frustration, anger and incredulity. For lack of a better word, I’m calling it frangdulity.
I got a bad case of frangdulity yesterday when, in my self-abasing way, I turned the radio dial in my car to NPR (National Propaganda Radio). After listening to a story about how the WHO sent a group of “investigators” to China to find the origins of the coronavirus, without ever mentioning the fact that ALL THE INVESTIGATORS HAD TO BE APPROVED BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY BEFORE ENTERING CHINA, I was subjected to an exchange between Mary Louise Kelly (MLK) and some clueless reporter about a decision that the Vatican just made about not accepting gay marriage.
It went something like this: MLK remarked that it probably wasn’t a surprise, and the reporter remarked that she was right that it wasn’t a surprise. And MLK said, but it must have been a disappointment. And the reporter agreed that it was a disappointment…to the LGBTQ community but that the decision was not surprising. But on the other hand it was surprising because of some of the comments that Pope Francis had made about gays deserving to be treated with respect and dignity. The conclusion of the whole 60-second piece of torment was basically, “As everyone knows, the Catholic church is slow to move.”
Frangdulity! It’s also that feeling you get when you know that people needed to hear more but the reporters are so shallow and ill-formed (and sometimes malicious) that nobody will ever be able to hear the truth.
So here’s the rest of the story that NPR didn’t tell you.
It would be quite unloving and a sore misuse of the YMCA’s purpose to say “Come. Have a hamburger and you’ll be well.”
The Catholic church not only does not accept gay marriage, but it also still does not accept most cases of divorce. Most of the Catholics who have been divorced and not had their marriages annulled are living in mortal sin unless they were not the fault of the divorce. This is still the teaching of the church. Not only that, but masturbation is still a sin. That hasn’t changed. Lust over a woman or a man is still a sin. And birth control, even between married couples is considered a grave evil, although 90 some-odd percent of Catholics still use it and some of them still get abortions, and untold numbers still masturbate!
The point is that the church is not singling out the LGBTQ community. It’s calling out everybody. You’re a sinner. I’m a sinner. We all fall short. So why in the world would we expect the Catholic church to change just for gays and their allies? Is the church supposed to totally reverse course on all matters pertaining to sex? Should it open the floodgates and announce that anything goes? Would that make you want to become a Catholic? Judging by the empty pews at so many churches that signed on to the sexual revolution mantras early on, I doubt it.
The reason I became Catholic is because it offered me a glimpse of what holiness is like. It holds up standards that are unattainable by most of us here on Earth and says, “Be perfect, just as the heavenly father is perfect.” And part of being perfect involves having all our passions under control, whether they’re gay passions, straight passions, food passions, greed passions, racist passions etc. It’s not possible for us to do on our own, I’m quite sure. I will never be perfect in this life, but I don’t dare to tell the church it should change just to accommodate my proclivities! Instead, I go to church to ask for help to change those things in me and when I do, I’m met with a flood of compassion and love from my creator, not because of my perfection but because of my desire to put God first and to be like Him.
Besides, the church has no authority to change moral laws that are just as immutable as physical laws. It would be like the YMCA being asked to change the definition of healthy because some people feel the standards are too high. Can the YMCA say, for instance, that it’s okay to smoke now?
Patron: It’s not fair for you to say I can’t smoke AND be healthy at the same time.
YMCA: Okay. We’ll let you smoke and you can be healthy. After all your voice matters…even when it’s wrong.
The Y accepts everybody. Smokers, meat-eaters, food addicts, the obese…It opens its doors and says, “Come. Start on the path to physical wellness.” It would be quite unloving and a sore misuse of the YMCA’s purpose to say “Come. Have a hamburger and you’ll be well.”
In the same way, the Catholic church cannot say, “Come, have sex with whomever you want. Let your identity be wrapped up in who you lust over or what sex you think you are.” No. The Catholic church says, “Come. Start on the path to spiritual wellness. Realize that your identity is in being a child of God and in NOTHING ELSE.”
At the Y, you see people who are buff, physically fit specimens alongside those who look like they have one foot in the grave. The Catholic church is the YMCA of the spiritual world. There are buff saints walking around who have truly overcome the flesh. They remain chaste and wholly devoted to God. They have few distractions that keep them from seeing things clearly and helping others immensely. They are what we should look up to. They are what we should aspire to be.
All spiritual traditions from Buddhism to Islam to Christianity have held that lust is an impediment to spiritual enlightenment. The Catholic church is simply trying to be the place where people can go to forget about their lusts and focus on the eternal. Can’t people just accept that and respect our rights to at least attempt to overcome our lusts? I would think the LGBT community of all people would be respectful of what we choose to do with our sexuality.
It’s likely the church will be persecuted more and more for Her stance against sexual immorality. But at least I have the hope of one day living where truth is valued, where human sexuality is properly understood, and my frangdulity is a thing of the past.