Everybody have a seat. Yes, everybody. Sit down. You in the back, too. Everybody have a seat unless you’re reading this on your phone while pushing a toddler on the swing with your other hand, in which case you’d better wait until you finish and then have a seat.
Okay, now listen. I’m gonna blow your mind. Don’t read this next sentence if you’re operating heavy machinery:
Everybody already knows that the Catholic church forbids homosexual intercourse.
Let that sink in a minute. Shocking, huh? All this talk in the past week about how we need to tell gay people what we think of homosexual intercourse, all this clamor about how to properly break it to them, all this worry that we’re not being explicit enough, and here they knew it already. In fact, I think if you asked three random Americans, gay or otherwise, to name three things the Catholic Church forbade, homosexual intercourse would be on that list. Everybody already knows.
But you know what people might not know? You know what they may never have seen, their entire lives?
They may never have met a Catholic who isn’t a damn jerk.
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t either.
I know that’s an exaggeration, but honestly, some days…
Just about a year ago, according to my Facebook Memories, I was pretty horrified at the nasty things my Catholic friends were saying in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage. They weren’t saying they were going to pray for our country or for our homosexual brothers and sisters, and then moving on to other parts of their day. They were stuck on it. And a lot of them were posting nasty vindictive memes, comparing gay people to gorillas or superimposing rainbows over drawings of demons.
That’s a fine advertisement for Jesus, isn’t it? Let’s say all you know about Catholicism is that it forbids certain kinds of sexual intercourse, and then you happen to see a Facebook friend of a friend who is a Catholic, posting a photo of the symbol for gay people over a yucky evil demon, and calling you an ape? Way to evangelize.
I was so horrified, I posted an apology to all of my gay friends on Facebook. I told them I was sorry for how my Catholic brothers and sisters were behaving. I apologized for the apes and the rainbow demons. I assured them I didn’t think they were perverts or dangerous or what was wrong with this country. I offered that, if any of them wanted to hear the Church’s teaching on sexuality and why we forbid the things we do, which wasn’t nearly as arbitrary as memes made it sound, we could get together for a pint and talk it over if they wanted. I was kind of afraid to add that last part. I was afraid my gay friends would be offended.
But a Catholic friend was.