November 6th, 2017
Recently, my wife received the following email from the leader of her prayer network:
“Dear Prayer Network Ministers,
Please pray for those who are in, or support sexuality contrary to our church’s teaching. Let us be solid in our understanding of God’s law and have the courage to lovingly speak His truth.
Please pray for faith filled family members struggling with deep sorrow in regard to its widespread acceptance.”
Okay…that is not a typical prayer request. Most of the of the time, people ask for more mundane and non-controversial sorts of things. People ask for prayers so that they might find a job, or that a friend will have a successful surgery, or that a family member may pass away peacefully while in hospice. Generally, the prayer requests are no-brainers. It usually comes down to: “Somebody is suffering, please pray for them.”
On the face of it, this particular request would seem to be referring to gays and trans persons. But, maybe not. The rules of the Catholic Church concerning sexuality are far-reaching. This prayer request might also be speaking to people who are divorced and remarried (without the benefit of an annulment), or it could be talking about folks that are living together, but are unmarried. The point is that there is a very large percentage of the population that is not following the precepts of the Church with regards to sexuality.
So, for what exactly are we supposed to be praying?
Are we supposed to be praying that people who are not following the teachings of the Catholic Church get their act together? I am uneasy with that. I know gay couples who are in loving and monogamous relationships. They are following Christ to the best of their abilities. I find to difficult to see the problem with the way they are living their lives. I know couples who are divorced and remarried. They seem to be good people, living good lives. I know a lot of younger people who cohabitate, and they are doing just fine. I also know couples who are following all of the Church’s rules, and their relationships suck.
I struggle to reconcile the teachings of the Church on sexuality with what I see with my own eyes. If the Church could show me what harm is being done by people who are not in Church-approved relationships, then I would take the teaching far more seriously. The arguments that are based on the Bible or the Tradition of the Church don’t cut it. If people are in relationships that are wrong, I want to know why these interactions are wrong.
The phrase “lovingly speak His truth” irks me. If Jesus has any truth, it is that love is everything. Whatever we do in this world that increases love is good. Rules that create more love are good. Rules that cause suffering and hate are not from Christ. Maybe I just don’t understand, and perhaps the teachings of the Church on sexuality actually do bring about more love. If they do, I don’t see how.
Somebody needs to explain it to me.