Like so many people who write on this blog, I was falling inlove—but it wasn’t the Disney story I imagined it would be. It was going all wrong.
No, this isn’t another coming out story. And Love Story time was yesterday, so this isn’t a story about how the man of my dreams came and swept me away despite my best heteronormative efforts. No, I can’t even get “falling in love all wrong” right. You see, I was falling in love with the Catholic Church. Not just God and not just Catholicism—those two had laid irrevocable claims on my soul long before—but specifically the Roman Catholic Church.
You can imagine my surprise. Despite the fact that at that point in my life, I was just coming to terms with my sexuality, and, on top of that, I already had my fair share of struggles with Church teaching. Growing up, I had been pretty much the only Christian—much less Catholic—in my group of friends, and so I had heard the various objections to the Church's teachings ad nauseum. But despite all of this, I couldn’t ignore the fact that God was undeniably calling me to a deeper involvement with His Church.
This seemed to be just a bit of a problem. There are gay guys out there who are, philosophically speaking, theistic. There are even gay guys out there who identify as Catholic, but who often maintain a careful disdain of the institutional Roman Church. Gay guys who consider themselves in love with the Roman Catholic Church seem to be few and far between.
What I was hearing all around me didn’t help [“Why are you still Catholic at all?”], and even the counselor I was seeing told me it was hopeless. I mean, I’ve sworn off hopeless crushes on straight guys; how could I expect any relationship with the Church to work out any better?
Hans Küng, an ecumenical theologian and Catholic priest once wrote “the problem ofGod is more important than the problem of the Church; but the latter often stands in the way of the former." I agree with Küng when he says this last part doesn’t have to be the case.
“There are two ways of getting home,” GK Chesterton writes in The Everlasting Man,“and one of them is to stay there. The other way is to walk all the way round the whole world till we comeback to the same place.” While I could hold up My Experience as infallible and withhold my assent to the Church until she reworks the witness of 2000 years of some of the world's brightest men and women so I don’t ever have to be challenged, I have seen my interpretation of my experience be wrong or incomplete again and again.
At the end of the day, every time I am at Mass or Adoration,God confirms He wants me in His Church. And I have no clue why He’s asking that of me, to be honest. It’d be so much easier to join some nice LGBT-affirming Episcopalian parish. But I can’t. I am Roman Catholic. And my love of God—of Catholicism—of Church—really isn’t a choice. And I can no more divorce my Church from myself than I can my sexuality.