Bad Image

Being Catholic in a very not-Catholic world is difficult for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the negative connotations and the bad image that many non-Catholics associate with the Catholic Church and Catholics in general. A lot of this comes from misinformation, and lies spread about what the Catholic Church really teaches and what Catholics really believe; but some of it is because of Catholics. We sometimes give ourselves a bad image and this can be dangerous when we are trying to spread the Gospel and attract more people to the Church.

How do we give ourselves a bad image? The way that Catholics tend to give themselves a bad image is not leading by example and not always practicing what we preach. Of course everyone slips up; we’re all sinners. But sometimes we blatantly act the opposite of our words without even realizing it. This is demonstrated by the way that many Catholics and other Christians reacted to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The Catholic Church clearly teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. It teaches that same-sex relationships and same-sex “marriages” are wrong. So when same-sex marriage was legalized many Catholics/Christians reacted by shunning those with same-sex attractions. We say, “God loves us all, even if we sin. Same-sex relationships are a sin like any other but God still loves those who are LGBTQ.” And He does. God does still love them. But do we?

Society today has popularized the idea that if you love someone you must agree with everything they do and everything they believe, and if you disagree with their choices/actions/beliefs, you must hate them. So the idea promoted by society is that if you love those who are LGBTQ, you must agree with everything they say and do, and if you don’t, you are an evil, hateful bigot. Catholicism says there is a different way: to love while disagreeing with the actions of the beloved because of a concern for the good of their soul. Catholicism teaches that we must love and support those with same-sex attractions, but we must not promote or condone the gay-lifestyle. Many Catholics today seem to be good at the not promoting or condoning the gay-lifestyle, but not so good at loving those who practice it. Or they are good at loving those who practice it because they condone it.

We need to be able to say, “I don’t agree with your choices; I don’t promote the gay-lifestyle,” without distancing ourselves from the person we’re saying it to. We have to be able to stand firm in our beliefs, and at the same time be able to love and welcome LGBTQ people into the Church. When I say love and accept, I don’t mean tolerate at a distance. What I mean is, we really need to make these people feel that we care about them and that there is another way besides loving agreement or bigoted disagreement. We need to show these people real support, real respect, and real love.

The way to bring people to the Church is by living our faith. And the best way to live our faith is by loving God through loving others.

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