A call to love
Laurel Javors | Friday, February 12, 2010
In case people haven’t been keeping up, there is a lot of discussion on campus and around the nation about gay rights. And yet, I feel like so much of the conversation is lost in isolating and destructive rhetoric. When I read some of The Observer Viewpoints, it is painfully clear that many Catholics fail to understand the Church’s teaching regarding human sexuality, whether it be heterosexuality or homosexuality. As a lesbian who struggled with identity, I read everything (yes, literally everything) the Catholic Church has written on the issue of human sexuality and homosexuality. I have read every passage from the Bible commonly thrown into the ring when discussing same sex attractions. I have read Biblical exegeses surrounding those texts. Am I an expert? Far from it. Have I done my homework? Yes.
When people make comments like, “There is no evidence that homosexuality is innate,” it is already clear to me that that individual hasn’t read anything the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality. Based on psychological evidence, from both secular psychological research and research conducted by Vatican psychologists, the Church maintains that a person’s sexuality is an innate part of his or her creation. It cannot be controlled, chosen or changed. It simply is. To try to change a person’s sexuality is to change something God gave him or her. It cannot and should not be done. However, the Church teaches that there is only one ethical and moral expression of physical sexuality: That is, in a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.
That being said, our sexuality, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is something we express everyday. Our sexuality is a divine and mysterious gift from God. Being homosexual does not automatically mean that a person engages in homo-genital acts just as much as being heterosexual doesn’t mean a person engages in hetero-genital acts. Theologians describe our sexuality as that which makes us most like the Divine in that it brings out our creativity; it draws into meaningful friendships. A man or woman called to chaste life (i.e. priests, sisters, nuns) is still a sexual being; he or she is still heterosexual or homosexual, however, in accordance to vows, does not act upon that sexuality through physical intimacy.
When lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and ally students ask that sexual orientation be added to the non-discrimination clause, we are not asking anyone to forfeit their belief in Catholic sexual morality. In fact, we are asking that the University uphold the Church’s teaching on human dignity. Adding “sexual orientation” does not mean that we are “imposing the beliefs of a minority on the majority.” We are not asking the University to condone same-sex marriage. We are not asking the University to condone homo-genital acts. What we are asking for is the exact same thing that the Catechism of the Catholic Church demands of Christians: “They [gay persons] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358 Catechism of the Catholic Church).
We are human beings, with the same goals as you. We are no different than you. Listen to our stories; get to know us; hear about our struggles. We are all students of higher learning. Even more important, we are all children of the same all-loving God. Part of being a student means stepping out of one’s comfort zone and engaging with people who are different. Part of being a follower of Christ entails a radical call to love. When people stop labeling those who are different as “others” and start calling them “brother and sister,” they truly are bearing Christ to the world.
I invite every professor and student at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to engage in a mature, intellectual and open discussion regarding sexuality, heterosexuality and, especially, homosexuality. Don’t enter the discussion entrenched in beliefs, on either side, formed by someone else. Be open to the conversation. If nothing else, at least you can come away from the discussion able to say that you stepped out of your comfort zone. Dialogue requires of us that we listen, so open your hearts.