I’ve been a Christian all of my Life. Some key events in my life shaped my faith formation. I was born a cradle conservative Episcopalian and served as a female acolyte for 10 years. In retrospect, when the Episcopal Church moved to LGBTQ+ reconciliation, inclusion, and affirmation in the early 2000s, they did some things right and some things wrong, but overall, I now appreciate a good deal of what they did. In their attempts of LGBTQ+ leadership “taking over” the upper levels of leadership in the Episcopal Church, which was my past perception, they were making safe space for LGBTQ+ people and their families, especially LGBTQ+ youth. When I say “safe space,” this is exactly what I mean, space which keeps the overall well-being of people who are different alive and well while preventing death and destruction of families. I will admit that the glorification of Bishop Gene Robinson created a mass wave of confusion and misunderstanding for people who didn’t understand the LGBTQIA+ issue at that time in 2003, such as tens of thousands of former Episcopalians. Bishop Gene Robinson was an Episcopal Bishop who came out gay later and life in the early 2000s while he was married to his wife with two children. Recently reading retrospectively a bit into his biography, he warned his wife that he was gay when they first married in 1972, but he went ahead and married his wife and had a family while warning her that his true sexuality may “come out” someday. It did just that years later which cost him his family and his marriage to his wife. Making his departure from his family and marriage to a man publicly applaudable in the Episcopal Church USA sent a shockwave which created a more conservative Anglican Realignment Movement, a movement which I my husband joined in 2012 and partly raised our children in, not knowing that my eyes would painfully open to the LGBTQ+ experience later as a practitioner starting in 2019.
In 2016, my husband and I made the move to the Catholic Church, a place which is also not exempt from LGBTQ+ people and their families but has a more preserved sense of historical Church teaching on sexual ethics. Here is the primary difference between the Episcopal and Catholic Church in regards to the LGBTQ+ issue. The Catholic Church, also divided between liberals and conservatives, tends to either lean heavily on her teachings of sexual ethics or her lean heavily on her teachings of justice through Catholic Social Teaching. Very few Catholics tend to observe the entirety of what the Catholic Church actually teaches and make decisions based on a well-formed conscience as the same is true for Christians throughout the Body of Christ. Leaning too hard one way or the other can either bring life or death in any religious body. It truly boils down to this. If the Church leans so heavily on the teachings of sexual ethics but ignores the historically-rooted teachings of social justice through Catholic Social Teaching and the Gospel itself, people will die, and LGBTQIA+ youth are especially vulnerable. In fact, any Catholic/Christian who is medically incapable of living up to “Biblical” and/or Catholic sexual ethics teachings is vulnerable to lasting psychological damage, lasting spiritual damage, or even death. This would also include people with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as Autism. So in these cases, which are actually not rare, the Church MUST lean on her teachings of justice rooted in the Gospel and/or Catholic Social Teaching which honor the Sanctity of Life, the Dignity of the Human Person, and the Call to Participate in Family Church and Society. Why must the Catholic Church and the broader Christian Church become more inclusive for minority groups who are incapable of following all teachings on sexual ethics, because the right-to-life and human dignity are at stake. I didn’t understand this 20 years ago, but I do now, especially as a practitioner and ministering to Catholic/Christian families with LGBTQ+ children.
Leaning too heavily on teachings of justice and totally discarding all teachings on sexual ethics can destroy individuals and families as well. I witnessed this in my high school days in the Episcopal Church. So in more recent years after 2000, the Episcopal Church has re-centered her sexual ethics teachings and places a higher value on finding a life-long monogamous spouse which is a medical reality for most people, heterosexual or homosexual. A monogamous life-long sexual ethic is actually a key component to keeping a family intact whether the parents of children are a mom and dad or two or the same gender scientifically-speaking. And this is what I support, the teachings on sexual ethics being used as a guardrail, not a weapon of where we can strive to do what we are capable of doing. And the reverse, not discarding the teachings on sexual ethics because this can incur death and rotten fruit as well.
Now I understand why this issue has been so difficult. God and the LGBTQ+ community forgive me for my past misunderstandings and acting upon those. The balance of the issues mentioned above are incredibly difficult for any Church body to properly address. We must always choose the fruit which brings life. That is the true Christian Gospel and Catholic Teaching.