I’m Not Cryin’ on SundaysJuly 17th, 2013
As a person who studies religion and the internet, I can assure you that it was a very interesting place after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act last month. In the spring, I finished my introductory religion course with a unit on homosexuality and gay marriage, a unit I was very nervous to go through with my first-year college students. My goal for the unit was to faithfully explain the Church’s position on homosexuality and gay marriage. I did much work to begin the discussion with the Church’s picture of marriage itself and explain how its position on the issue of marriage in the American context follows from it.
As part of the unit, my students and I read the USCCB letter to parents of homosexual persons entitled “Always Our Children.” In reading the document, most of my students were shocked to learn that the Church does not teach that homosexuality as an orientation is a sin. The bishops write, “It seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person.” One of my students remarked in his paper that it was refreshing to hear something from religious people about homosexuality that recognized, to some degree, the real challenge that homosexual people face.
Much will be discussed and decided in my lifetime about “marriage” in the United States. But I want to reflect today on homosexuality and the Church, leaving aside for moment the civil question of marriage rights. There is a song on the radio at present by an artist named Macklemore entitled “Same Love.” The song is clearly a proclamation Macklemore’s political stance on gay marriage but the refrain talks about homosexuality as an orientation: I can’t change/ Even if I tried/ Even if I wanted to. Such is the position of the bishops concerning the “relative stability” of sexual orientation. As the aching voice of the singer goes on at the end of the song, she evokes an image (after quoting Corinthians, no less) that should give any Christian pause: I’m not cryin’ on Sundays/ I’m not cryin’ on Sundays.
Whenever I hear this song, I, of course, think about the nuances of the Church’s position on gay marriage and the struggle to find footing in current political discourse rears its head once more. What really weighs on my heart, however, is the image of crying on Sunday. I imagine one of my brothers or sisters at my parish driving home from Mass in tears. At this point, I wonder if we’re answering the call to love as Christ loves. We cannot and should not align ourselves–culturally, politically, or spiritually–with religious groups or individuals that do not share our conviction that homosexuality as an orientation is not a sin and that every person is deserving of love. As the debate rages on, sometimes around us and often among us, let us remember our first call: to love one another as he loved us.