Elizabeth Scalia explains exactly how I, as an Orthodox Christian, think and feel about same-sex marriage: against it, but under no obligation as a result of my convictions to spite gay couples we otherwise like. Scalia’s post is in response to a conservative Catholic who wrote her demanding that she prove her orthodox Catholic bona fides by censuring a friend of hers who announced he was marrying another man. She refused to do that — she likes him and wants him to be happy — but also refused to offer him congratulations. She explains her reasoning in that post.Okay, okay, so I get all that. But part of me still wonders if that's all that's demanded. Isn't part of loving others who dissent from the Faith and its moral demands, what is articulated by the demands of Spiritual Works of Mercy? Among these are listed the bracing demand of "instructing the ignorant," and the severe mercy of "admonishing the sinner." Where do these fit into this picture? Which reminds me of those who try to pit "love" against "justice"; but isn't "justice" itself an expression of "love"?
What a strange culture we live in, in which people are expected to approve of everything those they love believe in and do, or be guilty of betraying that love. I have friends and family whose core beliefs on politics, sexuality, religion, etc., are not the same as my own, and it would not occur to me in the slightest to love them any less because of it. I hope it would not occur to them to love me any less because they don’t agree with me. People are somehow more than the sum of their beliefs and actions.
Growing up in the Deep South is good training for developing the kind of conscience that can love sinners despite their sin. Every younger person, white and black, knows at least one old white person who holds immoral views on race, but who is also, in other ways, a kind, generous, and upstanding person. Are we to condemn them wholesale for their moral blindness on this one issue? How fair is that? More to the point, how truthful is that, given that all of us are morally blind in one way or another, and depend on the mercy of others, hoping that they will love us and accept us despite our sins, failings, and errors. Once you start pulling at that thread, and deciding who you are and aren’t going to love and live in relationship with because they’ve transgressed an important moral boundary, who knows where it will end? There are some moral boundaries that, when crossed, to require disfellowshipping. But I think we ought to be reluctant to draw those lines.
In past threads, people have said to me, “If one of your children is gay, will you cast them out?” Of course not! I would not love him or her any less. I could not imagine what would separate any of my children from the love of their father. At the same time, I couldn’t affirm them in what I believe to be untruth — nor should they expect me to. That would not be true love. As Scalia writes:Part of the Catholic Church’s charge on earth is to train us in agape; it is meant to provide the foundation and—through its richly reasoned theology and liturgical and spiritual disciplines—the means by which we continually advance and grow toward a depth of wholeness that says, “I love you as God loves you, which means enough to set you free, in the hope that we will find each other again in that freedom.”
This is a great mystery, because to the world, that freedom is always supposed to mean an unimpeded “yes” to everything we want. In the divine economy, though, “yes” is the thing we discover once we have batted away the highly-burnished, distortive, self-reflecting idols we have picked up from society or created on our own, so that we may stand before something greater than we can ever imagine.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
"Yes & No on Gay Marriage"
While we're visiting Rod Dreher, here's another provocative post by the ex-Catholic convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. He writes: