I voted Green at the election. I did so because I perceived the choice between the major parties as a choice between dumb and dumber. I knew of course where my preference would go but I also happen to support many Green policies.
Equally, however – and I suspect hundreds of thousands of my fellow Australians who voted as I did feel the same way – there are many Green policies I reject and especially those on homosexuality and euthanasia.
There was a time in my youth when I would have asserted, plain and simple, that to be homosexual was to separate yourself from God. How ignorant I was.
At the possible, and unintentional, risk of offending many gay people I would say I wish there was no such thing as homosexuality. I wish we all were heterosexual. If that makes me a bigot I have to live with it.
You may have seen Sunday night's 60 Minutes' segment on coming out. I didn't but I have read the transcript. The program was about gay people embracing their sexuality and encouraging others to do the same. It left me cold, like the Gay Mardi Gras. On the other hand, the message that gay bashing and bullying is wrong, while being self-evident, is also – sadly – a critical one.
So what does God think of gay people? Presumptuously, I suggest he thinks the same of them as he does of all his creatures, which is to say that he loves them.
I once prayed that none of my five children would be gay. I think I was fearful of how I would respond to them. Each is well into adulthood now; most have families. What I can unequivocally say now is that I will always love them no matter what. I have eight grandchildren so far and they, likewise, will have my love always.
Because I have had the love and joy of my wife, my children, their partners and now my grandchildren I feel a deep sadness for those whose sexual orientation makes those kinds of relationships impossible. I accept that some will consider my attitude condescending and shun my sympathy. Again, no offence is intended.
I have come to know, respect, admire and love some gay people. I am a better person for that.
It is tempting to ask whether God could have ensured that no one would ever be, or become, homosexual. The response obviously has to be yes, he could have. So then you have to ask, why didn't he? The only response must surely be, we don't know.
Perhaps it is a question some gay people also ask. Many others would say they are completely comfortable with their identity. I don't believe I have the right to question that.
Do I believe gays should have the right to marry? No. I think marriage is an institution for male and female. I believe children have the right to a father and a mother. But yes I agree that, sadly, in many circumstances children are happier and safer with two mothers or two fathers.
Do actively gay people have the right to receive the Eucharist? They have, I believe, the same right as anybody else. Each of us has a conscience and our conscience, well examined and with God's commandments to the fore, should dictate whether we are in a fit state to receive Christ in Communion.
Happily there is far greater tolerance, compassion and understanding in the Church today. Many religious share my views. Many do not.
I hope that, whatever your opinions, you can respect the rights of others to hold opposing views. I hope we can all strive to love one another as God loves us all.
Bill Farrelly is a columnist with Marist Messenger.
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