Will anyone reading this even live long enough to witness the world’s major religions change their closed ranks, homophobic ways and teachings?
More obtusely, how do faith leaders get us from heart-warming and seemingly progressive Hallmark rhetoric to inclusion and welcoming?
It will mean reaching the hearts and ultimately the deeds of their respective flocks.
What would Jesus do?
On July 29, Pope Francis announced he’s more accepting of gays than his predecessor, who’s been quoted as deeming homosexuality “an intrinsic moral evil.”
During a press conference on the Papal jet returning Francis to the Vatican from his first foreign field trip to Brazil, the Pope answered press corps questions, ultimately landing on that age-old Christian quandary of: Who gets to go to Heaven?
The Catholic Church really should turn this question into a Milton-Bradley board game. It would answer the question about as definitively as the Catholic Church and all its popes have been able to, which is not at all.
More on whom God is a little later.
There’s so much confusion.
Mainstream media isn’t even really certain whom the Pope was talking about — gays and lesbians or only male priests?
Depending on which media source reported the story it seems the Pope was really answering a question about the Catholic Church’s “acceptance” of openly gay priests, which omits and/or ignores an entire population of lesbians, lesbians in the priesthood (the Church still does not ordain women as priests) and gays and lesbian parishioners (who are already in the church...d’uh).
This is about men.
Note the Pope’s use of the masculine pronoun in his answer.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Way to sidestep the Catholic Church’s homophobic dogma while still showing the free world you’ve got a good, Godly heart, Francis.
If this Pope thing doesn’t pan out, you should run for president of some nation and take a master class on “How to Be Squishy Until It’s Almost Too Late” from President Barack Obama.
(Remember, it took the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s shooter before our president outed himself as a black man.)
Meanwhile, retired South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu last Friday equated his fight for gay and lesbian rights with his fight to help squash apartheid. “For me, it is at the same level,” Tutu said.
“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” he said, adding, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry. I mean, I would much rather go to the other place.”
Tutu addressed a crowd during the United Nations’ launch of its gay-rights campaign in Cape Town, South Africa, a region infamous for its horrific and oppressive treatment of gays and lesbians.
So, we have the widely re-tweeted quotes from religious bookends.
Now what? Where do we go from here?
Probably nowhere fast in baby steps because loving kindness cannot be legislated by the government; acceptance of man and womankind cannot be mandated by a Catholic Pope, an Anglican Archbishop or a Baptist preacher; and human beings do not unshackle themselves from their -isms and fears until those -isms come to their homes and families to roost and sometimes still not even then.
The other day I overheard someone on the news or in real life — blurred lines isn’t just a hit song about sex — ruminating about God and suffering, as in, if God is real does he exist in suffering?
Does he have anything to do with it and, if so, then why?
My existential answer is that God exists in everything, especially in human suffering including the specific ways in which we try and succeed to suppress, oppress and dehumanize one another; even in the ways the powerful stop human progress.
God — not the devil — is in the details.
And he exists within those margins (but not marginally) so that we who call ourselves believers may seek His guidance and counsel and stand up for not only ourselves but for those who do not have platforms, the emotional language or the will to do it for themselves.
And in that way, we — believers and non-believers, the agnostic and the atheistic — find the likeness or semblance of g/God in ourselves.
God is about what is right, not Right Wing.
God is love and not sexual love, the love of money, material wealth or the love of self, but the kind of love that makes a woman hug her enemies on sight, or the kind of love that moves a woman to bridle her tongue when she could otherwise say a crass or cross word to or against someone else.
This caliber of love is supernatural and life changing and life affirming but does not exist in a vacuum and it requires hourly practice.
This kind of love is a muscle that must be flexed, warmed up, stretched and used; otherwise, it will surely atrophy into bitterness, confusion, fear and hatred.
If we are serious about this level of love — and I cannot say who is and is not serious about it because that requires judgment — then we must exercise it in spite of ourselves and hold our leaders (whoever we think they are) accountable when we think they’re bullshitting us on it.
That will be most of them most of the time.
I know it feels itchy and uncomfortable talking in public spaces about God, love, heaven and homophobia altogether, and many of you haven’t stuck with this long enough to read this far.
But that’s OK because only the readers interested in doing the work to challenge how they think, live and love will read this far.
This isn’t about the Bible, what you have been taught or what threatens your normalcy.
This is about faith, hope and love.
And the greatest of these is love.
And what Pope Francis said is progress.
But it’s not progressive.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: [email protected]