06 The Church and the LGBT Community - Ninette Lobo

posted Mar 19, 2019, 3:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 19, 2019, 3:47 AM ]
The word 'love' can mean different things to different people. It exists in different forms – between two lovers, a mother and her child, friendship, acts of service etc. But society seems to have a rather biased, one-sided definition of love, prioritising one form over the other, and therefore diminishing every other form of love and the value it bears for society. This redefinition of a word designed to guide the natural order of the world has been twisted to suit every whim and fancy and emotional impulse of a society focused only on limiting the bountiful forms of love to merely that which is romantic.

In 2017, Australia became the twenty-fifth nation to extend the right to marry to the LGBT community, and in 2018, India celebrated the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The banner of the multi-coloured flag flew high, and the illusionary rainbow became a brand and an insignia that the community painted as a public service campaign to showcase its pride. The community, along with the rest of society, had unanimously agreed that same sex love was indeed a human rights issue worth fighting for, and that love had no other adjectives, no other qualities, and that its very essence could best be narrowed to an all-encompassing phrase: 'Love is love.'

In the mainstream media, there is a rather misguided narrative being spewed that elevates the romantic form of love as the most supreme form, determining that its emotional engagement supersedes and dominates every other form of love. Pope Francis, in his encyclical 'Amoris Laetitia', elaborates, almost romantically, the forms of love, re-establishing its salient qualities, of what it is to love and to be loved. In the almost poetic and lyrical passages of St Paul, true, unadulterated love is that which is patient, kind, not jealous or boastful; it bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor 13:4-7). And yet, despite the rather rich features that love bears, society is given to believe in the existence of the limited gifts offered only through a romantic context.

In discussing conjugal love or love shared between husband and wife, Pope Francis describes it as "a precious sign" that is celebrated when man and woman commit themselves to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The Catholic Church minces no words in defining who can partake in this form of love, stating unequivocally the boundaries of this love, and those who can access it and receive its fruit in return.

The teaching is clear: "Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered… They present sexual acts as acts of grave depravity" (CCC, 2357). The Catechism further notes that "Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and wife." The physical union between a husband and wife is sacred, and mimics the spiritual communion of Christ and His Church. The tone is therefore firm, determined and unflinching. It seems, on the surface, restrictive, oppressive and constrained, making it hard for people to navigate their options, their life, and therefore, acceptance of the teaching. But the Church, whose very premise and foundation is that of love, has its reasons, and despite what may appear to some as rather harsh strictures, it is a view that has so far worked, in keeping with the natural order for society to grow, flourish and procreate.