The country exploded today when news of the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in favor of same sex marriage came out (pun not intended). I woke up to text messages, Facebook statuses and Twitter updates. Virtual parades marched through social media platforms with #lovewins banners raised high and I seemed to watch from the sidelines with other Catholics and Christians. Some people in the latter group were in disbelief, others were restating Scripture or Catechism lines, quoting the dissenting Justices. Friends were mourning the loss of friendships. Several times, I saw people ridiculed, shamed and denied respect. It seems like we've only flipped the coin on this issue: while gay men and women received a lot of criticism in the past, now it is directed at religious groups. Have we truly changed anything?
Could we have expected anything other than this sort of reaction? This topic has been major for several years and is the kind of topic which has high emotion intertwined in every sentence about it. Those on the pro sound can't help but sound gloating to the con side; those on the con side can't help but sound hateful to the pro side. It doesn't seem like any love wins in this back and forth.
"The Catholic Church and Her teachings are not comfortable. That's because She refines us and gradually transforms us." I tweeted earlier this afternoon. There is a great fear now about the safety of freedom of religion in the time to come. Some religious groups (Westboro Baptists, anyone?) are adamantly against gay marriage, to the extent of sounding truly hateful. Could you sound anything but when your most associated slogan is "God hates fags?" I mean, that is intense and also incredibly sad. Other religious groups say, "Look, we disagree with this and we want our freedom of religion to remain intact so that we do not have to perform or support any action against our deeply held beliefs." And maybe people see the latter as hateful too, but the last thing some want to come off as is hateful towards another.
Where is the fine line between hateful and remaining true to the the Catholic faith? For starters, I would point out this: I don't think that anyone who either grew up in the Church or came to Her as a convert found no difficulty. Being chaste isn't easy. Keeping your temper in check isn't easy. Reining in jealousy isn't easy. Refraining from despair isn't easy. There is a reason that Confession exists: we fall into sin, sometimes all too easily. But Christ is always there to forgive us and the Church is always there to guide us to the truth.
There is going to be a lot of talk in the days, weeks, months to come. It is good to know where the Church stands and realize that She calls us to love one another and treat one another with dignity. The Church's teachings on things like this are so controversial in this world because Her teachings are against the world. The Church is almost never going to be on the same side as the popular vote. God told us from the beginning: "I will put enmity between you and the woman; between your seed and her seed." Jesus told us in the Gospel of John: "If the world hates you, know that it hated me first." Who received more hatred than Our Lord, who was rejected by His very people?
So when you're out there in the public realm, do communicate the truth. But know that the truth isn't only the "do NOT" that the world pins on us so much. The truth is also the "DO." Do love one another. Do speak in kindness, truth and fidelity to the Gospel. Remember, also, that God is love. Love does win.