In our current culture, people often view disagreement as tantamount to hate. This is certainly true of Christians that don’t affirm the LGBTQ view of sexual ethics. And while I don’t think it’s fair to label someone who expresses a genuine disagreement as hateful, I do understand this visceral reaction.
When a Christian (or anyone) expresses opposition to same-sex relations, it can appear as an attack on an LGBTQ person’s very identity. The person can feel hurt, rejected and unloved. Words are powerful, which is why Christians are called to be graceful in our conversations (Colossians 4:6).
We need to approach any discussion about same-sex attractions with empathy. We need to listen to understand, not to lecture. And we need to be prepared to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), even at the risk of being rejected.
The LGBTQ community often uses the phrase “Love is Love” to express the idea that love can be found outside of a relationship between a man and a woman. I agree. However, this popular tautology doesn’t properly define what love is. Love is not just a feeling of attraction or desire. In fact, in most of our relationships where love is present, sexual desire is absent. St. Thomas Aquinas offers a different way to understand love: willing the good of the other.
What are the implications of this view of love? For the Christian, it means treating every person—no matter their attractions—with dignity and respect because they are created in the image of God. It also means telling the truth to those who seek it because you want their good, even if it conflicts with their individual wishes.
The Catholic Church teaches it is always wrong to engage in sexual acts with someone of the same-sex. That’s a hard thing to hear especially when the culture is moving fast in the opposite direction. To be clear, the Church isn’t singling out people who identify as LGBTQ. The Church teaches that sex is to be both unitive and procreative and reserved for people joined together in marriage.
Again, this is a difficult teaching to accept and live out, especially for those who experience same-sex attractions, as it requires a life of chastity. This is an immense burden to bear. Still, Catholics are called to gracefully share this truth. Of course, this doesn’t mean beating people over the head with Catholic teaching. Remember, prudence is one of the cardinal virtues. We must speak out when necessary and with love.
To the modern ear, this may all sound antiquated and even bigoted. Yet, if a Christian truly believes sexual activity with someone of the same-sex puts souls at risk, wouldn’t it be wrong to hide this truth from others?
If the Christian has a choice between prudently sharing the truth to potentially save someone’s soul or keeping quiet out of fear of what others might think, we have an obligation to choose truth. Love demands it.
Unfortunately, there will always be Christians who will use their religion as a bludgeon against people they don’t like. That’s the product of sin, and we need to thoroughly reject it. Our faith should not be used as an excuse to mistreat others but to invite people into a relationship with Jesus.
All people—no matter their sexual attractions—deserve to be respected and loved. That’s the message we need to bring to a world that has lost its way.