What happened with the Pope’s comments, usually happens whenever any comment is made about homosexuality. It is taken out of context if it is not politically correct, and all attempts to polarize positions are made. In conversations about homosexuality, someone has decided there can be no gray, only black or white. And black or white means full acceptance or hate. There is no middle ground. Religious people are ridiculed who try to have the “hate the sin and love the sinner conversation.” In fact, that phrase has been labeled a mere platitude.
In my opinion, no real conversation can ever take place in this emotionally charged atmosphere of either being for or against homosexuality. Language creates meaning, it is socially constructed and when that construction excludes any morality context concerning homosexuality, the conversation is lost. It reverts to the black and white, either/or positions.
Ordinary people can do what the Pope did–love people, welcome them to the church, but hold to Scripture as sacred and above the opinions of man. They just can’t talk about it.
The pope talked about sin, forgiveness and being cleansed, basic tenets of Christian faith. He didn’t label anyone. He didn’t provide an argument for or against homosexuality. He didn’t judge. He mentioned that gay priests should be celibate, the same as hetereosexual priests. And media are astounded that his tone was loving. Why? This is what the love of Christ does to people. He reflected Christ.
Maybe we don’t see this reflection often enough among those who call themselves followers of Christ.
But to assume the Pope is somehow changing his theology goes too far. In the Catholic church’s doctrine, homosexual acts remain sinful-the same for all non-procreative sex.
What media reacted to is that this Pope didn’t present gays as enemies of the faith. Neither did Jesus, by the way!
Media don’t understand. The Pope was more representative of Christ than most Christians.
This issue is not political for the Pope. It’s spiritual. But having a spiritual conversation with people who want to be political doesn’t work. It’s apples and oranges. Soul care and politics rarely mix, which could be one reason Jesus didn’t come to the politically powerful when He came to this Earth. He came to hurting, the lowly, those of no reputation. He cares about the disenfranchised. So does this Pope.
Whenever sexual issues are reframed as civil rights, there is no conversation. It is impossible. Who can argue against civil rights?
The love that is so desperately missing in real conversations is absent on both sides of the homosexual conversation. Christians have failed to love their gay brothers and sisters, and the gay political activists fail to love those who hold fast to the tenets of their faith.
Pray for this Pope. He gave us a glimpse of the divine nature of Christ, and the call for all Christians to love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7