A couple days ago, Catholic Arena (a media outlet I hadn’t come across before) shared a story on Twitter about some activists in Poland. They’d hoisted a rainbow flag onto a statue of Christ. The tweet said, The LGBT community in Poland are now attacking statues of Jesus Christ.
I sat back for a minute and thought. I replied.
The statue appears to be undamaged in this photo, I wrote, which is more than can be said of LGBT people who’ve been caught by anti-gay mobs, in Poland and elsewhere. (LGBTQ rights are a pretty contentious issue in Poland right now, and both violent anti-gay rhetoric and homophobic attacks are rising.) Which image of God do you care about more, the stone one or the flesh?
Catholic Arena replied, As with the crown of thorns, the intention is to mock and dominate Our Lord. God is not mocked.
I wish they had a little more confidence in that second statement. People who trot out the quotation “God is not mocked” always seem, for some reason, to be extremely anxious that people should not mock him—as if he can’t look after himself.
But I didn’t bring that up at the time. Instead, I pointed out that in truth, they didn’t know these people’s intent. And I think it’s worth lingering over that. True, a gay activist who hated Catholicism might tie a rainbow flag to a statue of Jesus because they knew a lot of Catholics would find it offensive. But equally, a Christian (gay or not) might tie a rainbow flag to the same statue, because they wanted to remind us that Jesus cherishes LGBTQ people. We can’t read hearts, and it’s important to be cautious when interpreting other people’s motives.
Catholic media tends to be really bad about that. To be clear, I’m not saying I’m immune, and I see this among leftcaths like myself a lot. This isn’t just a radtrad problem. But no matter who’s doing it to whom, making unfair assumptions about other peoples’ motives is wrong. Unfounded accusations, slander, gossip, and cattiness can do serious damage. This isn’t okay, and we need to be better about it.
However, I can’t help but chuckle at their reply for one other reason. You wanted to call something bad, so you chose to … compare it to the Crown of Thorns?