Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8, 2011 – Me, Religion and the Catholic Church

I have these periods where I spend significant portions of time trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  Sure that sounds a little ridiculous considering I’m 46 years old.  The thing is, I’m trying to figure out who I want to be next and how do I get there.   Whenever I start thinking about this I almost always start to think about religion and the role it’s played in my life.  I honestly like religion, all religions.  It doesn’t mean that I believe in all religions but I enjoy learning about other people’s beliefs and I enjoy discussing the commonalities between religions.
These thoughts prompt me to ask myself the same question I have asked myself over the last 10 years.  Do I want to go back to school for PhD in Religious Studies?  If I did, what would I do with it?  I could also continue on with my degree in Information Protection and Security, but do I really want to spend that kind of effort in pursuing something I find interesting but I’m not passionate about?

This, in turn, leads to the next issue which continues to evolve: my feelings about the Catholic Church.  I stopped attending mass quite some time ago, initially because I didn’t feel any sense of community or belonging.  I felt as if it was my parents’ church.  Around the same time I was also coming to terms with my sexuality.  The short story is I’m a late bloomer.  I spent years dating men, and then not dating anyone, because obviously something was wrong with me.  I just didn’t have a clue what that was.  Then I met L and it was as if a missing piece to the puzzle finally settled into place.  It’s hard to explain but mentally, everything relaxed and my brain took a deep breath and exhaled.  Here was someone who loved me, who I was absolutely capable of loving in return.  Prior to the moment when I realized I loved L (even if I couldn’t immediately admit it) I believed I was incapable of loving someone; of feeling that kind of attraction, of feeling that kind of “rightness”.

What’s any of this have to do with my internal religious debate?  I still feel disconnected from the church, because frankly it’s hard to feel connected to a church that places so little value on women and their role in the church.  Now that gets further complicated by the fact that I’m in a same sex relationship and the church hierarchy seems to spend an inordinate amount of time and resources fighting/attempting to overturn marriage equality.  Initially that emotion manifested itself as disappointment.  Not that the efforts are surprising.  Now I find that I am angry.  I’m angry every time I read anything the church hierarchy and more recently Archbishop Dolan says about women in the church or same-sex marriage.

The following is an excerpt from today’s online NY Timesarticle:

“Archbishop Dolan sees the church’s fight against abortion and same-sex marriage as a struggle for “religious liberty” against a government and a culture that are infringing on the church’s rights. The bishops have expressed increasing exasperation as more states have legalized same-sex marriage, and the Justice Department has refused to go to bat for the Defense of Marriage Act, legislation that established the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
The bishops are struggling to reclaim the role they played in the 1980s and into the ’90s as a nationally recognized voice on the moral dimension of public policy issues like economic inequality, workers’ rights, immigration and nuclear weapons proliferation. Since then, however, they have reordered their priorities, with abortion and homosexuality eclipsing poverty and economic injustice.”

I’m not going to claim that the church is homophobic because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  From a religious perspective they believe this, ok I can accept that.  From my perspective Marriage Equality has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with civil/human rights.  In a strictly non-romantic perspective it’s a contract between two parties and since our government deems it fit to refer to that civil contract as a “marriage” when it is between a man and a woman from an equality perspective it should be referred to as a civil “marriage” for same sex couples as well.  You can’t have a second class of definition for the simple fact that it’s a second class. I’m not asking the church to recognize my marriage within the confines of their religious beliefs.  I am asking that they separate their religious beliefs from politics.  I am asking them to perhaps direct their substantial funds to things that can better society.  I don’t know, maybe in these tough economic times they’d like to help out the homeless, and the hungry with some of the funds they are directing towards the campaigns to overturn same-sex marriage in NY or block same-sex marriage in Maine.  I’m asking that they focus a little more attention on opening their doors for people who want to have a structured relationship with God but can’t return to their churches because their church spends an inordinate amount of time telling them that they are less than.

Really, does Bishop Dolan or any other person out there really believe that I woke up one day and thought “wow, wouldn’t it be fun to be in a homosexual.  I think I’ll choose this path because my goodness how easy and fun it will be.”  Yes, I could choose to be single, but I believe that if God had intended on me being single and alone; if he had not wanted me to experience the joy of being loved, truly loved; he would not have introduced me to L.

So now I guess I have to focus on being less angry with the church hierarchy and more focused on what I want to do about my own spirituality and relationship with God. 

Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2011, All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment