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Is it fine by you?

Rebecca Austen | Tuesday, April 20, 2004

For the second time this semester, a number of students on campus will decide today to wear an orange T-shirt that bears the slogan, “Gay? Fine by Me.” This letter is written for those students. In my mind, such students fall into two categories, and I will address each of them separately. The first group is the well-meaning sector of people who consciously examined the meaning of the shirt and, because of the ambiguity of its wording, decided to wear it in order to express love and respect for their homosexual brothers and sisters. The second group had a totally different motive for wearing the shirt: its members believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with homosexual acts and reject the Church’s teaching on this matter.To the “well-meaning” group: you were fooled into thinking that these shirts meant only that the Notre Dame community was showing respect for its brothers and sisters in Christ who are oriented towards homosexuality. There are two reasons why wearing the orange shirt did not accomplish this objective. The first is that it caused a scandal among your Catholic brothers and sisters and other members of the student body. The slogan on the shirt was just vague enough to cause confusion about its consistency with Church teaching. Catholics who are trying to follow Christ and truly love everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation, must be clear when they express what the Catholic Church teaches. Someone who knows that you are Catholic and sees you wearing the shirt is likely to think, “Well, that person is Catholic and she supports homosexual behavior, so I guess it’s OK.”This creates division among the members of the Body of Christ. (It is similar to politicians who claim to be “Catholic” but do not strike down legislation that is pro-abortion. People respond by thinking that the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is fine, when in fact the Church teaches that abortion is a grave moral evil.) The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is inherently disordered. The shirts do not express this beautiful teaching and so cause scandal.The second reason the shirt does not accomplish an objective of love is that a slogan like “Gay? Fine by Me” does not express the respect that the Church tells us we must have for all homosexuals. It is instead a non-committal expression that essentially says, “Do whatever you want, it doesn’t bother me.” This is the attitude that has wrecked havoc in our society throughout the 20th century. It is the same attitude that produced the “woman’s right to choose abortion” movement. “I support your right to choose” is code language for “I don’t give a damn what you do or who you are,” and the orange shirts reflect this un-Christian sentiment. Do not be deceived by modern jargon that merely reflects a political agenda.To the group that chose to blatantly reject the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, there are bigger problems than just a lack of love for your brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with homosexuality. One thing must become clear: love cannot be equated with tolerance. Tolerance is not a Biblical virtue. Jesus did not embrace the woman’s behavior when he asked the men who had not sinned to cast the first stone. He forgave the woman and told her to sin no more. His was a true love, because it was a call to purity of heart and body. This is the authority of Christ, and it has carried through the centuries in the teachings of his Most Beloved Spouse, the Church. What the Church teaches about sexuality comes in an unbroken and unchanged format that has existed for over 2,000 years. It is absolute folly to think that within a couple of generations we can overthrow not only a teaching that has survived the centuries, but one that has been written on the human body and soul since the beginning of time. To encourage homosexual behavior is to participate in this folly.Think for a moment: God has revealed his plan of salvation for the whole world right in the human body itself. The love of a man and woman reflects the love that Christ has for us. That God desires to be in communion with us was such an important reality to recognize that he wrote it into our creation in the union of male and female. In the Bible the love of Christ for his Church – that’s us! – is always described as the love of the bridegroom for his bride. Our bodies reflect this eternal reality by the fact that in the communion of male and female, new life can be conceived. God wanted us to know without a doubt that the truth of our whole being is his sacrificial love, which when accepted, creates divine life within us. It is resurrection. Having new life in Christ is of such eternal importance that when husband and wife imitate Christ in giving their bodies to one another, new life is born. This most beautiful teaching of the Church is not to be tampered with, because it is our salvation. That we were created “male and female” is the incredible reality of Christ’s love for us. Without the recognition that in the unity of persons the resurrection is prefigured, our lives are meaningless. Do not profane what is sacred. The homosexual act defames what God has written on our hearts. Do not discourage people from realizing the truth of their existence. For the student body: As you examine the issue of homosexuality in light of the Church’s teachings, take care to examine your own lives and your own sexuality. Are you living out the “theology” that your body demonstrates? Are your own heterosexual relationships reflecting the sacrificial love of Christ? This shirt campaign suggests that the beautiful reality of human sexuality isn’t being modeled in our lives. In fact, if we were more willing to live out our own heterosexual relationships in purity, we might be more willing to call homosexuals to do the same, instead of flippantly communicating that we don’t care.

Rebecca AustenLaw SchoolClass of 2006April 20