An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends Who Have This as Their Profile Picture

Especially the "Catholic" ones (oh yes I did)*.

I intended this to be just a Facebook post, but you know me, it got long. So it's here.

I've been pretty silent about the gay marriage debate on Facebook, not because I don't have an opinion about it, but because I know the flash of heat I feel when I see a friend post something in support of gay marriage, and my lingering discomfort as it sits there on my timeline until my other friends have made enough posts that I can't see it anymore.

I hate that feeling and I don't want to make you have it by posting something that you will find confusing and troubling, as I find your posts to be. I still like YOU, but that's how I feel about those posts. So I just haven't done it. Because I don't want to make you uncomfortable.

But on today of all days, I've decided that I'll take just a few moments to explain why I disagree with you. So maybe you'll still be troubled, but maybe you won't be as confused.

I'm guessing that what exasperates most of my gay-marriage-supporting-Facebook friends the most about someone like me not supporting gay marriage is this:

And here's where we agree: Gay marriage does NOT directly affect my life.

But guess what: My lack of support for gay marriage was never about ME. I don't support gay marriage not because it isn't good for me but because it isn't good for the people who WILL engage in it.

I cannot support gay marriage because I love people who have same sex attraction enough not to lie to them and say that society becoming accepting of the particular sin to which they are drawn will take away that feeling of emptiness and un-fulfillment that turning away from God and towards yourself creates in a person's soul.

Not in gay people's souls specifically, mind you, in ALL people's souls. Each person has a dominant flaw (or two or three), a sin or temptation to sin that keeps coming back again and again. For some people, it's same sex attraction.

Let's say, just for argument's sake, that my dominant flaw is impatience. Let's say I struggle every day to not lose my temper with my children, to not consider myself entitled to the last cookie or the best seat, to not begrudge people my time and attention because of all the super-important (to me) things I'd rather do with my time.

I confess this sin as often as I go to confession (which is usually every month). I pray about it often, and try to pay close attention to situations in which I'm likely to succumb to it. And with the help of prayer and grace I have made progress. It's still there, it's still a temptation for me, but I'm getting a little better all the time, and I'm so much happier for it. I'm a better wife and mother and human being for it.

But what if, instead of me getting to work on it, the state of California just passed a law that said that, actually, the Catholic Church is wrong and impatience and selfishness are actually good and to practice them will make me happy. If I believed them, I would stop struggling against the thing that is my near occasion of sin, I would start indulging it. I would distance myself from the Church and from God and I guarantee you I would be less fulfilled, not more.

That is my biggest problem with gay marriage. It's not because I don't want people with same sex attraction to be happy, it's because I really, really do want them to be happy. I want them to have the joy and peace and contentment that I have found by admitting that I am a sinner and that I need some work. I am never made happier by indulging my sinful desires, I am always made happier by fighting against those desires and surrendering to God's graces, especially those I find in the sacraments.

When a government makes legal something that is immoral and bad for you (see: birth-control, abortion, pornography, divorce), it ceases to seem immoral and bad for you to that government's citizens. When something no longer seems immoral and bad for you, people stop struggling against it. But we must never stop struggling, we need the struggle. The struggle and God's grace are our only hope for heaven.

So, gay-marriage-supporting-Facebook friend, I hope you made it this far. If you did, thanks for your time, and I hope you understand me a little more, even if you still don't agree with me.

In conclusion, I won't be changing my profile picture to this:

not because I don't agree with it, but because I'm confident that my current profile picture already says it all:

* Especially the "Catholic" ones: a braver and/or less concerned about other people's feelings Facebook friend recently posted the following:

Some reminders to my so called Catholic friends and family.
1.) Taking part in or procuring an abortion results in an automatic excommunication from the Church.
2.) By supporting gay marriage you protest against the teachings of the Church. That makes you protestant.

p.s. This post isn't meant to represent a comprehensive look at the teaching of the Catholic Church about same sex marriage. If you are looking for that, Catholic Answers is a great resource. For the perspective of a faithful Catholic young gay man, check out Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine.

Update: Hey all, this post seems to have grown legs and run off. This is a small Catholic blog. Most of my posts are about parenting techniques and book and movie reviews.

This post was written not to try to change your mind about this issue (although you are free to change your mind if you'd like), it was written to explain my beliefs to my friends who disagree with me.

You are welcome to comment whether you agree with me or not, but I will delete any mean-spirited comments (on either side) because that's not what this blog is about.

Thanks for stopping by . . .