Sure, but I was never that kind of altar boy

I heard a gay priest (Catholic) on NPR today discussing the anticipated upcoming Vatican ban on gays entering the seminary.

I felt bad for this guy, because he is caught between his sexual identity, and his faith (which as an ordained priest he’s supposed to support; kind of like soldiers in the military). Plus he has to be celibate. Unwelcomed by his own religion, yet recruited into service, and he can’t enjoy a normal party of being human. Yikes.

The stupidity of banning gays from seminary as the Vatican’s response (presumably that’s the impetus) to priests sexually abusing children and others is rather evident.

What I wonder about is, with other choices out there why would someone like the priest on the radio stay in the Catholic Church? Anglicanism can give him the best of both worlds (not without a bit of controversy, granted, but at least there’s some breathing space). There are “Catholic offshoots” like the Catholic Church in America (whose website seems to be down, but we have at least one parish here in ATL: http://www.stmichaelatlanta.org/Index.html). I’m sure the answers at the end of the day are complex.

Unitarians are generally gay-friendly, in part because most of us simply aren’t interested in meddling in the consensual affairs of adults, and partially because its de rigueur. But I think there are deeper, religious bases for a Unitarian stance towards gays that is positive and affirming.

Firstly, Unitarians find the twin commandments of Jesus to love God and to love other humans as deceptively simple in theory but difficult in practice. Honestly wrestling with these ideas leads us (meaning anyone) to be more accepting of other humans, and helps to break down barriers and prejudices. This means that gradually we start to see a natural expansion of “the kingdom of God” to include many of those who would popularly be considered outcasts.

Secondly, Unitarians understand God to be reasonable and find the almost obsessive anti-gay attitudes of some groups to be irrational. The Biblical taboos against homosexuality are as irrelevant and illogical to us as any ancient code governing human life based on superstition and pre-science. No Unitarian would propose that women be sent down to the river during menses, for example.

Thirdly, Unitarians are generally trustful of science and logical thinking. Psychiatrists overwhelmingly believe that homosexuality is a normal phenomenon for some percentage of human beings, and is not a mental or other illness.

So while the Vatican and its faithful legion struggle with this issue, I rejoice to be part of a religious tradition that has already dealt with it, and done so in a way that celebrates the value of the human individual, invites the “least of these” to full participation in religious community life, and exemplifies the love of God for all humans.

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