Respecting Everyone

Gay/LGBT Pride Month will be over in about two weeks. Wanting respect is reasonable, but I don’t agree with much of what’s said on this issue.

Don’t worry, I won’t be spitting venom. Even if I felt like it, which I don’t, that kind of trouble I don’t need.

First, I’d better talk about love and respect, and why I think both are important.

Also what being a Christian, a Catholic, means. And what it doesn’t.

I do my level best to love God, love my neighbor, and see everybody as my neighbor. (Matthew 22:3640, Mark 12:2831; Matthew 5:4344; Mark 12:2831; Luke 10:2530; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1825)

That’s because I follow Jesus, the Man who is God.

Love Matters

Jesus died in my place.

By dying, he conquered death. A few days later, Jesus stopped being dead. He lives today and forever. (Matthew 28:110; Mark 16:111; 1 Peter 4:6; Catechism, 631635, 638655)

Our Lord endured torture and death for sinners like me.

“Like me?” I’ll get back to that.

Ever since our Lord stopped being dead, we’ve been passing along the best news humanity ever had — God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 1:1214, 3:17; Romans 8:1417; Peter 1:34; Catechism, 2730, 52, 1825, 1996)

I accepted God’s invitation. What you decide is up to you. We have free will. (Catechism, 10211037)

One of God’s ‘family values’ is an all-embracing love. Treating others as I want to be treated seems like a logical extension of that love. (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)

Acting as if love matters doesn’t happen. Not in my case. Not consistently, and never perfectly.

It would be easier if we lived in a perfect world, but we don’t. What I gather from Genesis 3:121 is that the first of us lost no time in messing up our original harmony.1 (Catechism, 398400)

Being a Christian doesn’t make me one of the ‘righteous’ folks, a spiritual aristocrat.

Being a Sinner

I fail to consistently do what I know is good for me or for others.

I don’t always avoid what I know is bad, or love others as I should.

Each time I don’t act as I should, I offend reason, truth, and God. (Catechism, 1706, 1776, 18491851, 1955)

That’s a sin.2 It keeps happening, which makes me a sinner.

But like I said, I’m a Catholic. I do not think I’m a “loathsome insect,” abhorred by a hypersensitive God. (March 5, 2017; November 21, 2016)

I do think I need God’s mercy. That, and enlightened self-interest, is why I try to avoid hurling insults at ‘those sinners over there.’

“You hypocrite, 3 remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
(Matthew 7:5)

13 ‘Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
(Luke 6:37)

Each of us is made “in the divine image:” no matter who we are, who our ancestors are, or what we’ve done. (Genesis 1:27; Catechism, 357, 361, 369370, 1700, 1730, 22732274, 22762279)

I’m a rational creature, a person. I decide what I do, like the angels. (Catechism, 311)

Or I can decide that thinking is too much work, and act on whatever daft desire surfaces in my mind’s backwaters. Either way, it’s my decision. (Catechism, 1704, 17301731)

Unlike an angel, I am also a material creature: a spiritual being with a body made from the stuff of this world. (Genesis 2:7; Catechism, 325348)

Something went wrong, obviously. But the problem isn’t having bodies. God makes us, and this universe, and God doesn’t make junk.3 (Genesis 1:31; Catechism, 31, 299, 355)

Nothing I do can change my basic nature. I’ll always be a human: with the power, limitations, and responsibilities, that go with my nature. That’s scary. (April 7, 2017)

Loving My Neighbors – – –

I take love seriously, so I must have and show respect for the dignity of each person, and humanity’s transcendent dignity. Everyone’s dignity. No exceptions. (Catechism, 19291933, 22842301)

I think respect makes more sense than lashing out at my fellow-sinners.

Respecting dignity, and practicing forgiveness, doesn’t make a sin okay. But remembering how often I’ve made regrettable decisions, and how easily I could have made others at least as regrettable, helps me avoid self-righteous indignation. Or curb it, when I forget.

One decision I don’t regret is the one that kept me alive, about a half-century ago.

I still get the occasional suicidal impulse. Happily, I’ve gotten pretty good at rejecting them. (June 4, 2017; February 24, 2017; October 14, 2016)

Suicide is a bad idea, and I shouldn’t do it. It’s a sin. (Catechism, 22802283)

Feeling the impulse isn’t a sin. Acting on a self-destructive urge would be. But I’m told to hope for the salvation of those who killed themselves. (Catechism, 17301742, 2283)

I’m okay with that: particularly since someone very dear to me killed herself.

Forgiving others doesn’t mean ignoring trouble. Justice and mercy are both important. (Catechism, 1805, 1829, 1861, 19912011)

Developing good judgment doesn’t mean becoming judgmental.

Judging whether an act is good or bad is a basic requirement for being human. It’s part of using my conscience. I’m even expected to think about the actions of others. (Catechism, 1778, 24012449)

That’s because sin isn’t just about me and God. I’m not loving my neighbor if I see nothing wrong with someone hurting my neighbor. (Catechism, 2196)

It’s a matter of hating the sin, loving the sinner: and leaving the judging of persons to God. (Catechism, 1861)

– – – All My Neighbors

I remember the ‘good old days’ before 1968, and thank God they’re not coming back.

I don’t celebrate Gay/LGBT Pride month.

I won’t spit venom, either.

If I felt hate for folks in a gay pride parade, television repairmen, rabid protesters, or anyone else — my job would be purging that hate, not expressing it.

My attitude toward folks dealing with unusual attractions is no great virtue. I’m too aware my own temptations to feel smugly virtuous.

Folks like these Westboro Baptist Church activists? I must not hate them, either.

But like I said, having good judgment should be part of being human.

What they’re doing is a very bad idea, and they shouldn’t do it. Nobody should. They’re not typical Christians, by the way. I don’t even think they’re typical American Protestants.

The problem isn’t that ‘religious’ folks are getting involved in society. That’s a good idea, something everyone should do. (Catechism, 19131916)

It’s not that their beliefs aren’t just like mine. I’m obliged to recognize the “goodness and truth” in all religions that search for God. (Catechism, 3943, 839845)

I’ll admit that in their case, it’s very well-hidden. But I hope it’s there. Somewhere.

Remembering Human Dignity

From Jeremiah J. Crowley's 'The Pope: Chief of White Slavers High Priest of Intrigue.' (1913) used w/o permission.Apparently the Westboro bunch say the Catholic Church and Islam are “Satanic frauds.”

It’s not a particularly original claim, but effective in some circles. (June 4, 2017)

I don’t, obviously, think they’re right.

And I can’t agree with what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it.

I think God loves each of us. One of their slogans is “God hates you.” That doesn’t leave much room for solidarity.

Or, in my case, desire to love. I think they’re wrong about a very great deal.

I hope that at some level they want to fix what is not right in today’s America.

However, I think their zeal and dedication could be directed in better ways.

Again: I do not sympathize with their methods, or their mangled version of Christianity.

But hating them is not an option. Imitating them would be a huge mistake.

And I don’t think pretending that America is just fine the way it is, or was, makes sense.

What does make sense, I think, is remembering that human dignity is important: everyone’s dignity.

“…Above all the Church knows that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart when she champions the dignity of the human vocation, restoring hope to those who have already despaired of anything higher than their present lot….”
“…Citizens must cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism, but without being narrow-minded. This means that they will always direct their attention to the good of the whole human family, united by the different ties which bind together races, people and nations….”
(“Gaudium et spes,” Blessed Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965))

I’ve got more to say, but that’ll wait until the next post.

Acting like love matters:

1 Reading and understanding the Bible is part of being Catholic. So is realizing that the creation accounts use figurative language. (Catechism, 101133, 390)

2 Sin, Catholic style:

SIN: An offense against God as well as a fault against reason, truth, and right conscience. Sin is a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the eternal law of God. In judging the gravity of sin, it is customary to distinguish between mortal and venial sins (1849, 1853, 1854).”
(Catechism, Glossary)

3 More of my take on being human, and appreciating this astounding universe:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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2 Responses to Respecting Everyone

  1. irishbrigid says:

    Wrong word form? “how often I’ve made regretted decisions, and how easily”

    The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

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