“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” – The Problem.

All Inclusive Ministries (“AIM”) is a “welcoming, safe, and affirming Catholic community.a Based at Our Lady of Lourdes’ Parish in Toronto, Canada. At their blog, José Antonio Sánchez has written a piece on “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”  which pretty much sums up the way I feel about it.

  • Even when well – intentioned, that’s not the way it’s heard by those for whom it’s intended;
  • There’s little point in selectively quoting biblical verses. We’ve probably studied them, in depth and in context, far more closely than our critics have done, and with good reason: we really need to understand them, fully.
  • Asking us to “follow Jesus” rings hollow, coming from those who appear to have missed the overriding message of the Gospels, of unconditional love and radical inclusion for all, and especially those most marginalized.

rainbow-church

However, the call to follow Jesus is inherently sound. The problem for those critics, is that doing so is unlikely to lead us to where they expect. When I first considered returning to the Church twenty something years ago,and discussed my many reservations with a one – time student friend who had since become a Jesuit and parish priest, his advice was simple: Don’t make assumptions. Faith is a matter of experience,  not of the intellect. Take God on trust, and see what happens. 

I took that advice. My subsequent faith journey, including several years close engagement with Ignatian spirituality, spiritual direction and a most extraordinarily intense 6 day Ignatian directed retreat, has left me with an absolute conviction that it’s our critics that have got it simply wrong. There are great dangers in irresponsible sexual behaviour, but those apply equally to LGBT and heterosexual, cisgendered people. The Catholic Church and some others may draw discriminatory distinctions in guidelines for for sexual behaviour, but God doesn’t.

As Sanchez notes in the opening of his post,

There’s a common misconception that as Christians we are responsible for the state of a person’s eternal soul, including those of LGBT individuals. We think that it’s our responsibility to outreach, evangelize, judge, convince, and convert them. We believe that their success or failure is directly correlated to our efforts in their lives.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting what’s best for others, or with guiding them to what we believe Jesus wants for their lives, we have to recognize that their spiritual well-being is ultimately not under our control. We play a role, but it is ultimately between them and God, and nourishing that relationship between God and LGBT individuals should be our priority.

Jose Sanchez, AIM blog

(my emphasis)

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