I just got back from my first Theology on Tap in probably over a year. Working evenings doesn't allow me the luxury of participating in the bulk of the Denver Catholic Young Adult event calendar, but having a roommate on the ToT hospitality committee gives me very little excuse to skip when the opportunity presents itself. The topic was "Gay and Catholic: Is there a place in the Church for me?" as presented by Eve Tushnet, a Yale-grad convert who found and joined the Catholic Church years after coming out, a rare progress of events. This isn't a topic that I particularly enjoy spending time with, because there is a lot of animosity and misunderstanding in our culture surrounding it. It isn't the topic that I would have chosen for my one Theology on Tap this year. But I think it's important to continually challenge ourselves in our faith. There is a danger to living in any comfort zone, particularly the one in which I typically reside that says that being Catholic is the logical, comfortable norm. While I don't have the desire or the expertise to go into the Catholic teaching on homosexuality, I did find a few points of Eve's talk relevant to the challenge of living Catholic, regardless of your particular struggles.
The first question that Eve had to answer before joining the Catholic Church was which did she believe more? That homosexuality was morally neutral or that the Catholic Church had the authority to teach on the topic of homosexuality. She phrased it better, but you get the idea. Her conclusion was that she believed the latter more. For anyone struggling with a teaching of the Catholic Church, I think this is a fundamental question. Is __________ (fill in the blank) morally neutral and/or does the Catholic Church have the authority to teach a doctrine on the matter. You can fill in the blank with abortion, premarital sex, contraception, the death penalty, euthanasia, etc. You can talk about the need for confession, Holy Days of Obligation, the primacy of the Eucharistic presence of Christ, or any other hot-button topic that non-Catholics and uneducated Catholics alike can argue to a pulp. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of faith in the Church that Christ founded and to whom He gave authority. I don't have to understand why the Church says what She does about any of these issues, but I do believe that it is within Her scope to teach the truth about them.
Eve also mentioned that in her journey, many times she felt like Peter, saying "Lord, to whom shall we go?" There were many moments that led her to an edge, a crossroads, and she found herself thinking that if there were anywhere else that she could possibly go, she would choose that instead. But she realized that she didn't have anywhere else to go but straight into the arms of the bride of Christ. That was home. It wasn't an easy home, and if she could have taken another path, with less suffering, less doubt, she would have. But she couldn't. And that's what I find myself thinking when I encounter not just non-Catholics, but those who have no place for religion of any kind in their lives. Where else are you going? I don't have anywhere else to go and I can't imagine that what they've found could possibly be any better.
The final point that I want to process is Eve's distinction between a negative enactment of a vocation and a positive enactment. The negative is "God doesn't want me to have homosexual relations" whereas the positive is "how does God want me to give and receive love within the guidance of His Church?" You can apply this to any vocation, and I certainly see a parallel to how I am living as a single woman. Until I am blessed with the grace of marriage (which is where I believe God is calling me), I can focus on all the things I can't do. I can lament the childbearing years lost. I can wallow in my loneliness of another Saturday night without a date. I can succumb to jealousy of all my friends who are living their vocation of marriage. Or, I can figure out how God is calling me to give and receive love in this moment. He isn't calling me to be a wife and mother tomorrow. But He is calling me to be a woman of God tomorrow. And if I can figure out the best way to embody His love in that way, then when I look back, these won't be years I spent waiting for my vocation, but they will be years spent living my vocation.
I think it's important to recognize that it is difficult to be Catholic and homosexual in the same way that it is difficult to be Catholic and anything. That your sacrifice and your cross are no more or less uniquely difficult than anyone else's. It is difficult to be Catholic and chaste before marriage. It is difficult to be Catholic and a doctor. It is difficult to be Catholic and work weekends. It is difficult to be Catholic in a materialistic, hedonistic society. The lesson that I take from tonight is the importance of offering all our brothers and sisters in Christ compassion, support and love. I don't have any more answers than I did three hours ago. But I do cherish the knowledge that God knows what He is doing and He gives us a way to peace and joy, if we are only willing to accept it.