“As an LGBTQ+ ally, I too was forced to leave my non-affirming denomination. Although the Catholic Church is in the midst of a grassroots revolution, the entrenched hierarchy refuses to budge. Thus, its official doctrine regarding homosexuality remains as follows: “Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to natural law…Under no circumstances can they be approved (CCC2357).” Personal experience taught me otherwise.
First, my wife came out after six years of marriage. Although this development was emotionally distressing for us both, it taught me an important lesson (learned over the years) of understanding, compassion, and acceptance for one whose lifestyle may differ from my own. My ex-wife’s ongoing struggle for family and societal acceptance forced me to take a more open and affirmative stance regarding the LBGTQ community.
Years later, our son Chris came out in his early twenties. This was no surprise as the two of us understood this fact for most of his life! Unfortunately, social stigma and intolerance led our son to engage in self-destructive behaviors. Fortunately, Chris has gone on to accept his sexual orientation as well as to become a counselor for those suffering from OCD and other anxiety disorders.
My son’s coming out, in particular, forced me to reassess my religious affiliation. I could in no way accept my church’s teachings that homosexuality was “disordered” or “unnatural.” Personal experience taught me that far deeper issues of human biology and psychology were involved in the formation of one’s sexual orientation. The latter was not a simple question of “choice” as critics claim – any more than my own heterosexuality was. The real choice for any LBGTQ+ person was one of self-acceptance or self-abnegation.
I drifted away from Catholicism and found a welcoming home in the Episcopal Church, which is an officially affirming Christian denomination. In fact, many of our deacons, priests, and bishops are LBGTQ+ and married as well. I even found that in the Episcopal Church, I could keep the “smells and bells” of Catholic worship without its accompanying guilt and emotional baggage. Leaving one’s religion is as difficult as an intense romantic breakup. Nevertheless, remaining in a toxic or codependent relationship does neither party any good.”
I am so appreciative of Leif for sharing his story. While filled with challenges, it overflows with grace.
If you are looking for an affirming church, gaychurch.org is a great resource.
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