There’s a lot of critical talk today regarding Bishop Barron writing a positive review for Father James Martin’s new book. People are quite upset that he would support a priest who openly embraces same-sex relationships. I actually don’t know as much about either Bishop Barron, or Father Martin, as I’d like; but I do know some things.
I know people that I love who are often choosing their own desires, feelings, & wants over God’s. In fact, I too often head that list. However, my greatest consolation is that we are among the body of Christ’s people - as flawed and imperfect as we all are. Since I know that we are trying to walk with Christ; I know that God is able to work deep down in our hearts. And anytime God is working - He is bringing about conversion from OUR Will, to HIS.
And so, there’s hope. Always.
But for those outside of the Church, and Christianity’s reach - there is little, if any, hope. For if you don’t have the light of the Holy Spirit working to awaken you; then what do you have? Nothing.
I think that’s why Jesus said that He came not for the well; but for the sinner. Those who are sick need doctors - not judges.
Perhaps this is what Bishop Barron and Fr. Martin are trying to do. If so; if they are simply trying to bring those in the ‘gay’ community into the loving school of the Gospel - then good for them.
Because every ex-gay that I have met in my work in Christian Healing Ministry came to wellness and wholeness through the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. His love drew them; and His love then called them to Wholeness. Ex-gays are among the most joyful people I know because they have seen what brokenness is - and they now know Wholeness. It is the greatest gift of their lives.
However, they often say: ‘Alcoholics have a propensity for alcohol; but no one tells them to drink themselves to death. Why didn’t anyone in my life love me enough to tell me there was another way too?’
I have a very close loved one who tragically got caught up in the Opiate crisis. When my prosecutor friend brought my loved one’s arrests to my attention; I reached out to her. I told her that she was heading on a path to death, and that she needed to get help. Being a criminal defense attorney, I knew many sources where she could get that help, and I offered to share them with her. Instead, she promptly claimed victimhood to all our other loved ones; and had me labeled as the ‘Mean Christian’ who was ‘unloving’ to her.
In keeping with our new culture of ‘Love’ today, everyone else chose her side. They ‘affirmed’ her in her brokenness - with no qualifications. They ‘trusted’ she would be fine, and believed her promises. I, however, was the outlier, and my version of ‘Love’ was looked down upon by all I knew. According to the new definition of ‘Love’, I was one of those ‘Hateful Catholics’ who was ‘judging’ someone else’s behavior - by pointing out that it was behavior that was sinful; and hence would lead to no good end. They, on the other hand, felt affirmed as being more ‘loving’, and ‘compassionate’; than me.
As all enabled her during arrest after arrest, I alone tried to convince them to let her suffer the consequences of her actions - at a minimum, stop bailing her out of jail - because only then would she realize how awful it was all becoming. I kept trying to sound the alarm that no good would come of her addiction, and that making excuses for her again and again would only lead her on a road to darkness. Yet, each time I tried, I was again labeled ‘The Hater’, for not caring; and my suggestions dismissed as being too ‘mean’.
I continued to try to reach out; telling her that I would help her - but only if she acknowledged she had a problem; and went for help. Scornful abuse was her only response.
Years later, after she had lost marriage, children, home, sanity and everything good in her life; after she was to the point of living in either crack houses or on the street; after she had burned out the care, finances and support from all those who faithfully followed our culture’s new definition of ‘Love’; she - thank God - was finally arrested, and sent off to prison. Guess who she called as her ‘one phone call’ from jail?
No one could understand that. She HATED me for all those years that she was engaging in sinful behavior. Why in the world - would she call ME?
I think it is because she knew, even then, that I was the only one who was actually speaking Truth to her. I was the only one who loved her enough to let her hate me - and so she knew that that kind of love is the one that really does rescue - when one is ready to acknowledge that one needs rescuing. In other words, I think she finally realized that I cared more for her, then for my popularity in this world. And that, after all, is the REAL definition of the word: ‘Love’.
And that’s where I have an issue with the Father Martin’s of the world. Yes, Jesus always called sinners. But then he said, ‘go and sin no more - least something even worse happen to you…’
I think that is because He knew the Truth that when you engage in sin, you are actually choosing to reside in Satan’s kingdom. And that kingdom only has ONE destination: Death. Yes, people actively engaged in same-sex behavior are beloved children of God; no more and no less than the rest of us. But they are caught in a bondage that is not of their doing. It is a bondage that only leads to pain, hopelessness and ultimately death. To tell them to grow comfortable in that bondage, to embrace their chains - is to deny to them the truth that the Gospel brings healing, wholeness and FREEDOM. It is to care more for yourself, and for your popularity, then for the very lives of those you are watching descend into darkness. And that is NOT the definition of ‘Love’.
But I don’t know Fr. James Martin’s heart. Perhaps as he brings ‘gays’ into the Church, he is quietly offering them reality - that the Truth will set them Free. But if he is doing what so many do today - pat them on the head and tell them to go and act however they want because ‘God loves them’ - then he is a coward. And in the Christian faith, cowards are not to be celebrated - they are to be chastised. Because Cowards lead others to death.
But I will leave that to God. Meanwhile, I will pray for all those caught in the defense mechanism of same-sex attraction. I will pray that the Holy Spirit continues to work on their hearts to bring them Truth, Grace and most importantly of all - Freedom.
And isn’t prayer, ultimately, something more constructive than criticizing?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.