For those of you who haven’t been following this column, I would like to invite you to read at least a few of my other pieces. In short, my Pediatric Specialty Therapy Practice and Disability Advocacy has grown into something I never anticipated, especially coming from my conservative religious background. One of my other pieces will reveal that I now advocate for LBGTQIA+ inclusion within the Catholic Church. In short, inclusion for all marginalized groups and their families is life and death or pro-life.
As a person with Parkinson’s and ADHD, I visited my physicians at UT Medicine San Antonio a few weeks ago. The lead doctor and his assistants confirmed what I have already observed, that society and healthcare are moving to a fully-inclusive position for all members of society, including LBGTQIA+ people and their families. In short, it’s truly life and death for ALL people to live in safety, to have the same human rights as everyone else, to be part of family and community, and not be marginalized. As a consensus, this medical team confirmed what every medical association in the world says, that inclusion is life and death.
With this knowledge, if the Church doesn’t align its pastoral ministry programming with current science and best practice, it will continue to endanger the lives of marginalized groups. These groups include but are not limited to: Racial Minorities, the Disabled, Neurodivergent Persons, Migrants, LBGTQIA+ individuals and their families, and other groups who have a history of marginalization. Pastoral ministry would meet the specific needs of a specific marginalized group, preferably lead by an individual or a parent of that group.
I am going to add and edit a section from one of my first articles to this piece.
Let’s look at the Parable of the Tree in the context of responding to ANY marginalized group. Some of what follows is from the group Freedhearts, but I added some of my own good and bad fruit which I have personally experienced as a professional.
“Jesus’ parable to answer his disciples’ question about how to know if something is true. Jesus’ answer was, “Look at the fruit. If a tree bears good fruit, then you know it is a good tree. If it bears bad fruit, it should be chopped up and used for the fire.”
When we look at the consequences (the “fruit”) of rejecting marginalized groups in the family, church, and society, we find depression, anxiety, self-hatred, shame, self-harm, substance abuse, separation from God, the church, community, isolation, anger, serious mental illness, and suicide.
But when we teach that God, the Church, the family, and the community loves, accepts, and meets the specific needs of specific marginalized communities, the fruit is health, healing, love, joy, peace, self-acceptance, stable relationships, reconciling with God and the Church, family unity, and wholeness.
Fully accepting and including an LBGTQIA+ people and their families would be no different than fully including and accepting children with disabilities and/or neurodiversity like Autism. Being LGBTQ+ is not a disability, but it is part of being on a spectrum intrinsic to being human. Unless you are capable of life-long celibacy for yourself, you are not qualified to expect this from someone else. Someone’s sexuality is between them, God, their loved one/parents, and no one else. We can still promote a life-long monogamous sexual ethic and holy living without forcing yet still be fully-inclusive.
Marginalized persons need unconditional love and support, especially from other Christians, for their dignity, the sanctity of their lives, and suicide prevention. Love and support from other Christians is seen as love and acceptance from God. Christians rejecting or trying to change marginalized people is seen as rejection and abuse from God. Jesus and the Gospels were all about love, inclusivity, and defending the marginalized.
Catholic families with marginalized children, especially LBTQIA+ children, are having to choose between their child’s right-to-life or stay in parts of the Catholic Church or other exclusive conservative faith communities.
If you think this is in any way moral, good, or Christian, you need to rethink your faith.