An Open Letter to Cardinal Raymond Burke

A reflection by Sarah

Dear Cardinal Burke,

You probably don’t remember me, but we met once a few years ago when I attended Mass regularly at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I am a former Catholic who is now part of a different Christian tradition. I am also a partnered lesbian. Before I go any further, I want to make clear that my reasons for leaving Catholicism were in no way related to the Catholic Church’s teachings on same-sex relationships or any other aspect of human sexuality. My current Christian tradition also teaches a conservative sexual ethic, and I was aware of that upon entering. I am writing this today in response to your recent commentary on the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, specifically the talk given by the Pirolas of Australia who shared about experiences of inviting their gay son and his partner to family gatherings. But what you’re about to read is likely not what you might expect given the content of my first paragraph.

I’m not going to argue against the Catholic Church’s theological position that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” I received my theological training at a Catholic university, and am aware of the philosophy and theology that undergirds this statement. My personal feelings about its wording are irrelevant. Unlike many Catholics and non-catholics alike (including a large number of priests I’ve met), I do not mistakenly interpret this bit from the Catechism to mean that the Church believes I have a mental disorder or I am a lesser human being than my heterosexual brothers and sisters. I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t be defending the teachings of the Catholic faith. As a bishop, this is your job and it would be unreasonable for any person to suggest otherwise. Lastly, I’m not going to complain about how any of your statements — recently or in years previous — have impacted me emotionally as an LGBT person. I don’t intend on giving the reactionary internet trolls yet another reason to dismiss LGBT Christians as crybabies who are only interested in a soft, watered-down version of the historic faith.

Now that I’ve laid out plainly what I’m not going to say, I’ll get directly to the point: I believe your response to the Pirola family fundamentally distorts the conversation about LGBT people in the Church. Anyone with authority to present Church teaching needs to do so clearly and also needs to be careful not to stereotype, caricature, or misrepresent. I don’t see either of these qualities in your response to the Pirolas’ talk. I’ve looked carefully at it over the past couple of days and have engaged in a number of conversations about the issues it raises. I have some questions that I hope you will consider answering.

First, I find it difficult to understand the meaning of your statement that gay relationships, and presumably some other kinds of relationships that you do not specify, are disordered. The Catholic Church makes very clear its teaching about homosexual activity, but I’m curious as to what renders a relationship as a whole disordered from your perspective. My partner and I are intentionally celibate and committed to continuing in celibacy for the rest of our lives together. I experience no sexual or romantic attraction toward Lindsey, though I love Lindsey more than any person in the world. But it’s also true that our relationship is a queer partnership. Having written a number of blog posts about our relationship, I’m well aware that this kind of arrangement is controversial and many people refuse to believe that couples like Lindsey and I exist, but there are many other couples like us. Would you consider our relationship an example of what you refer to as disordered? Furthermore, in the case of a sexually active same-sex relationship, would you assert that there is nothing good, holy, or Christlike about the way two partners interact with and attempt to guide each other through life? Does the presence of sexual activity and romantic attraction in a same-sex relationship automatically render the relationship disordered in its entirety? If sexual and romantic attraction are not present, does this matter at all? Couldn’t it also be argued that every human relationship is partly or at least occasionally disordered, except in rare situations where perfect love is always present? I would be grateful for some clarification on where the line is between a disordered relationship and an ordered relationship, and what makes a relationship so disordered that children should not be exposed to it.

Second, I’m wondering what qualifications you believe that families should impose upon their gay loved ones before permitting them to attend gatherings, especially where children are present. If it is inappropriate to invite one’s gay son and his partner (and family members in other kinds of disordered relationships) to Christmas dinner, what questions should a parent be asking in order to determine who can come? Should every potential attendee of a family function be required to inform the hosts in detail about his or her sex life? Or should it be assumed that if the hosts have any doubts or curiosities about a family member’s morality, sexual or otherwise, said person ought to be crossed off the invitation list without further inquiry? How qualified do you think parents are to determine whether or not their adult children’s souls are in a state of grace? Perhaps I’m wrong, and if so I’m open to being corrected, but to me it seems spiritually detrimental for a person to spend any amount of time speculating about another person’s sins. It also seems to me that your advice regarding parents with gay sons and daughters encourages this unhealthy spiritual practice. I sincerely hope I am reading you incorrectly on this point because it would trouble me greatly to think that a bishop is counseling his faithful to busy their minds with imaging what may or may not be happening in a loved one’s private life.

Third, I would like to know how far along the journey to overcoming a particular sin you believe a person ought to be before he or she is welcomed, not only at family gatherings but also as an active member of a parish. In addition to working toward repentance, what must he or she do? Spiritual fathers cannot break the seal of confession, so it would be impossible for members of the parish to verify without doubt that so-and-so is no longer living in sin. Should it be a requirement that the penitent be completely free from this sin before participating in parish life in any meaningful way? Must the penitent then focus on doing everything possible to prove his or her repentance to every person in the parish? What if doing so becomes more about pandering to the neuroses of the pious than attempting to follow Christ without compromise?

As a celibate gay person, I find that more often than not, people in my parish assume that I’m committing sin regardless of what I do or say. Some would be unsatisfied with anything less than a breakup of my partnership, a firm commitment that we never see one another again in any context other than church, and assurance that both of us will spend the rest of our lives in solitude so as not to risk impropriety with either women or men. There are LGBT members of my Christian tradition and yours who desire the fullness of the historic faith, but are terrified of causing an uproar on Sunday by simply being present. For the past two days, I’ve heard dozens of faithful Catholics asserting that this is as it should be, and drawing their arguments primarily from your statement. There are Christians — both Catholic and non-catholic — who have taken your words to mean that every LGBT person who darkens the doorstep of the church should be subject to an inquisition. As a bishop, you need to be aware of this.

I could continue with more questions, but this is already getting quite lengthy. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the sufferings of children exposed to gay relationships as compared to the sufferings of other family members who would be impacted if gay loved ones were uninvited from gatherings. I’d like to know how you reconcile the fact that in many non-western cultures, people are more affectionate with each other in general. This includes men being affectionate with men, women being affectionate with women, and married people being affectionate with folks other than their spouses. I’d also be interested in knowing exactly how you think the mere presence of a gay couple, sexually active or not, will communicate to children that gay sexual activity is morally good. Presumably, young children don’t know anything about sex, and there’s no reason to believe that a gay couple is any more likely than a straight couple to begin conversing with children about sex.

What I would be most interested in hearing from you is why you have chosen to respond to LGBT issues discussed at the Synod in a way that focuses exclusively on prohibitions against same-sex sexual activity. I’m reasonably confident that you will not understand this, but gay Christians do not define ourselves primarily by our sexual attractions or sexual decisions. When “intrinsically disordered inclinations” becomes “disordered relationships” the speaker distorts the conversation. Questions about whether people should be invited to their families’ Christmas dinner tables distort Christ’s welcome to everyone. If people are expected to answer questions about their sex lives before receiving any degree of welcome, then it’s only natural to assume that the Church is incapable of seeing people fundamentally as beings created in the image of God.

I understand that as a bishop of the Catholic Church, you have a weighty responsibility to present the Gospel in its fullness. A synod on difficult pastoral circumstances will naturally spark conversations where one bishop’s approach differs from another bishop’s approach. I hope that you feel encouraged by your brother bishops while discussing these complex realities. Finding the ideal language to use after such extensive conversations is hard, if not impossible. In a world where people are grappling constantly with new challenges while attempting to avoid misunderstanding, your clarification on these matters would be helpful to Catholics and non-catholics alike. I hope that you will consider responding to at least some of these questions because I am not alone in wondering what your answers would be.

You remain in my prayers, and I would appreciate also your prayers for me.

Sincerely,

Sarah

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31 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Cardinal Raymond Burke

  1. ” I experience no sexual or romantic attraction toward Lindsey, though I love Lindsey more than any person in the world.”

    I’m not Cardinal Burke, and I don’t play him on TV. But this gets to the heart of why I am reading your blog in the first place, and I dearly wish to understand.

    If you experience no sexual or romantic attraction to your housemate, in what way is your relationship homoSEXUAL? Lesbian appears to have different connotations for you and I’ll leave that bit out, but it occurs to me that like my heterosexual relationship with my wife, which will one day end in either mutual celibacy or death of one of us, the sexual portion of the relationship requires, well, sex.

    I simply can’t describe a chaste, celibate relationship as SEXUAL, no matter how hard I try.

    • I’ll try to explain in a different way. Lindsey and I don’t refer to ourselves as “homosexuals.” That term is very clinical and antiquated, and LGBTQ people in general do not use it to refer to ourselves. My being a lesbian is about the fact that the sexual attractions I *do* experience (even though they aren’t toward Lindsey) are exclusively to women. We refer to our relationship as “LGBT Christian couple” because that’s what we are. We are Christians, and we are both LGBT. We are also a couple because we’ve committed to living our lives together as a community of two. You are correct in saying that our relationship is not sexual. Indeed, it isn’t. But like all human relationships that are healthy, ours works because we accept and integrate our individual sexualities without excising them. I hope this helps.

      Sarah

      • Then I would contend that the LGBTQ that Cardinal Burke and Catholic teaching is reacting against- which is *entirely* defined by homosexual behavior and is based in valuing sexual procreation as sacred and all other forms of sexual behavior as disordered- is not what you are experiencing- and to imply that it has anything to do with what you are experiencing is a huge straw man.

        I see no reason why you should classify your relationship as Lesbian, or refer to yourselves as Lesbians, but that’s because you are using a vastly different definition of the term than I am familiar with.

        In my world, I don’t have to politicize my nonsexual friendships with the same gender, perhaps precisely because I decided at the age of 24 that I would finally actually follow the idea that sex is primarily for procreation. My wife and I have failed at that due to fertility issues, but being faithful Catholics we haven’t spent the family fortune trying to cure those fertility issues either.

        I’ve got plenty of same gender friends that I love just as much as you love Lindsay. But I would never classify those friendships as anything more than basic Christian Fraternity.

        • There’s no straw man here. We’ve faced the exact same kinds of accusations and harassment as sexually active couples, so our experience is relevant to this. We’ve also experienced family members having moral qualms with welcoming us. We are a couple, and we are not simply “friends.” Saying that we are a couple is not for the purpose of politicizing anything. We share a household, major decisions, and pretty much everything in life. We’re a family, and this is not basic Christian fraternity.

          Sarah

          • “We’ve faced the exact same kinds of accusations and harassment as sexually active couples, ”

            The key difference being that you were sexually active in a way that was not oriented towards procreation.

            Heterosexual DINKS also experience the same accusations and harassment.

            “We’ve also experienced family members having moral qualms with welcoming us.”

            Of course they have, you’ve invented something new- and the new is always viewed as dangerous.

            “We are a couple, and we are not simply “friends.””

            Yet I see no difference whatsoever in your relationship and any of my same gender friendships, other than a willingness to politicize it and name it something other than what it is- a harmless friendship.

            “Saying that we are a couple is not for the purpose of politicizing anything.”

            Then why bother doing it? What, exactly, is the difference between your relationship and every other same-gender friendship on the planet?

            “We share a household, major decisions, and pretty much everything in life.”

            I know plenty of same-gender heterosexual friends who do the same. I see no difference there.

            “We’re a family, and this is not basic Christian fraternity.”

            To be a family in Catholic terms, you need to be open to procreation. That is not possible in a same gender relationship, and therefore, like the term Lesbian, you’re using a novel and new definition of the word “family” that *directly challenges and degrades* procreative families, in much the same way divorced and remarried parents do. That is a political statement that goes far beyond your relationship, and is extremely destructive and hateful.

          • 1. Excuse me? Where are you getting the idea that we’ve only experienced discrimination during past periods of being in other sexually active relationships? We experience it *now* just as much as ever.

            2. That doesn’t make it okay for family members to treat us as anything less than human beings with dignity.

            3. The fact that *you* can’t see our relationship as we and those closest to us do doesn’t mean that we’re wrong. And once again, we don’t call ourselves a couple for the purpose of politicization. If this statement is included in future comments, they will not be approved.

            4. Read every post and you might come to a deeper understanding of how our relationship is much more than a same-sex friendship. It’s not accurate to slap a label on something you don’t understand just because that label fits within your worldview and others don’t.

            5. Same-gender heterosexual friends don’t make commitments to doing this for life, through thick and thin, no matter what.

            6. This is blatantly false. To be a “marriage,” we would need to be open to procreation. But we are not a marriage and have never claimed to be. “Family” does not necessarily mean “marriage.” Are you suggesting that, for example, a single person with foster children does not have a family? There is nothing hateful about referring to ourselves as a family.

            I will engage with you in civil conversation for as long as you wish. But I will not approve further comments with judgmental and belligerent remarks.

            Sarah

          • 1. I think it might be your redefinition of the word family that makes them uncomfortable. All discrimination is based in fear- and there is a lot of fear surrounding the idea that the human race should simply stop breeding and go extinct.
            2. Discrimination does not treat people as “less than human”, it instead calls them to become more human.
            3. The fact that you threaten censorship against other points of view, shows your true intention on this topic.
            4. That’s why I am asking, but apparently, you aren’t willing to communicate this “deeper” level in terms that would allow anybody else to understand, especially given the tendency to redefine words.
            5. Yes, some same gender heterosexual friends do. For instance, external to my marriage, I’m the primary point of contact for two friends currently going through extremely severe health problems. I make sure their rent is paid, their utilities are up to date, I help them with their bills, and I am on call for one of them should he suddenly need a ride to the airport for his lung transplant. EVERY human being deserves that level of commitment from us, merely because they are human. That’s what dignity really means.
            6. Yes, I am implying that a single parent taking in foster children is providing a less than ideal situation and is not, in ideal terms, a family, and is thus outside of the mission statement of the Synod on Marriage and Family.

            And somehow, I don’t expect this will get through the moderation, but I’ve said my peace.

          • Theodore, we do not threaten censorship against opinions that are not ours there’s a difference between communicating an opposing viewpoint and being a jerk. Lindsey and I are both always willing to engage with you if your comments are civil. You’re free to have your opinions, and you can see that I’ve approved your comment. But you’re not asking us any of the deeper questions. You just continue to assert that we aren’t what we say we are, and every time we offer an explanation it doesn’t seem good enough for you. I don’t intend to respond to this again point by point because I’ve already addressed much of what you’re saying, but I will say that I think your limitation of “family” to heterosexual marriages with children is very sad, and the Catholic Church does not limit “family” such that single parent families, foster families, and other kinds of arrangements are blatantly excluded. Aside from that, as should be clear after this post, I’m not Catholic. Neither is Lindsey. Our tradition does not define everything in the same way the Catholic Church does. You are always welcome to comment here, but again, you need to find a way to communicate without belligerence in order to get your comments approved. This has nothing whatsoever to do with censorship of your viewpoint.

            Sarah

          • Sarah, I don’t see how your relationship with Lindsey is ‘queer’ under any definition of that word. My only guess would be is that your living together is part and parcel of the fact that you are both Lesbian and is therefore ‘queer’. This is the only baffling aspect of your remarks. Is my best guess on track? Ed

          • We’re both LGBT. Lindsey does not identify with the term “lesbian,” but I do. Yes, our celibate partnership is very much related to the fact that we are LGBT. By all outward appearances, we’re no different than any other LGBT couple. We do life together. We share major decisions. We provide for each other. We’re a couple. The word “queer” means unusual. We chose that word for the title of our blog specifically because our relationship is something that most people would consider unusual.

            Sarah

  2. Thanks for writing this letter and please send it to Cardinal Burke. It is important that he hear your reaction to his insensitive comments which are clearly not Catholic doctrine, however much Cdl Burke might want them to be.

    Don’t be afraid to be who you are – that’s important.

    God Bless

  3. I’ve been wrestling with the term “disordered” most of my adult life. In the Americanized Catholic context, it becomes synonymous with diseased, deviant, disgusting, repugnant, inferior, wrong, and degenerate. It also starts referring to the person, not the act. Looking at the original text, it becomes clear that it is simply stating that homogenital activity does not have the capacity to reproduce; it is not ordered to procreation. That seems evident enough. Now, I spend a lot of time correcting my fellow teachers of the faith when they insert meanings that are really not there but that they have been teaching, and believing, for their entire careers.

    • I can relate to this. One reason believe it is so important for bishops to speak clearly and without using stereotypes is that more often than not, Americans misunderstand and misapply theological terms. I too have spent much of my adult life trying to explain what Catholicism does *not* teach about human sexuality. I find it deeply disturbing that there are so few bishops making efforts to correct misunderstandings on these matters. There are plenty of devout Catholics who are well-catechzed aside from this issue, but for whatever reason combine Catholic theological language with the harmful and false messages of organizations like Exodus International. In my experience, the vast majority of traditional Catholics I’ve met are absolutely convinced that being gay is either a choice, an illness, or both. Though I’m no longer Catholic, I still make every effort to correct Catholics who believe these things. Thanks for commenting today. Hope to see you again!

      Sarah

  4. I know from previous posts that both of you seem to be more conservative and traditional (which is not the point I’m about to make) especially in comparison to someone like me and yet I agree with all the points you have made. Alot of the time I’m trying to find a better way to word ideas like given above because there are so many Christians and Catholics out there who are completely fine with the way LGBT people are treated in the Church and see any attempt at dialogue or anger is being unjust towards them. Its kind of funny because christians who don’t want lgbt people present in church probably don’t realize there is a great chance lgbt people are already in the church. (their church even)

    “Third, I would like to know how far along the journey to overcoming a particular sin you believe a person ought to be before he or she is welcomed, not only at family gatherings but also as an active member of a parish. ” love this one in particular. there is a catholic group called courage and they won’t accept people until they promise celibacy and there is a personal vow to not use LGBT terminology in the group. But most importantly, the way LGBT people are monitored for their level of sin to even be present in a church (or more formally join the church) is ridiculous.

    I don’t know it’s just discouraging to feel unwelcome at any number of churches just for being gay. i didn’t realize churches were present in communities to pick through the people they do or do not want….

    thank you for this Sarah

    • I think this is perhaps the saddest part of the broader issue. In parishes where the majority of members are very traditional, there’s often an understood cultural norm of policing the actions of others, especially those who identify as LGBT even if celibate, or even those who happen to “appear” LGBT because of one physical feature or another. Lindsey and I have both experienced this many times and continue to experience it in our current Christian tradition. I’m not arguing at all that moral issues should be ignored, but I’ve never been able to understand why faithful Christians of all varieties have such a hard time allowing spiritual directors, pastors, etc. to do their jobs when it comes to guiding people…and more importantly, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in this way. On your point about Courage: I’ve had personal experience with this group. My experience was overwhelmingly negative, but I know other people who have had positive experiences. I would like to believe that my friends who have had positive experiences with Courage are the majority and that my own experience is the minority.

      Sarah

        • My experience was negative for two reasons primarily. The first is that I was the only woman in the group I attended, and every time the group met it was basically an hour-long venting session about male struggles with masturbation. I couldn’t relate to anything that was discussed, ever. The other reason my experience was negative relates to the point you raised: ex-gay tropes were abundant in the group I attended. But once again, I don’t want to disparage the positive experiences that others have had with Courage.

          Sarah

          • That would be awkward…. (reason one)
            And that’s why I asked for further explanation because Sarah you give very thoughtful responses that typically seem to be fair. That in itself seems to be hard for most people, including myself.

  5. This brings up the question of cohabitation. Is it possible then for a heterosexual couple to live together in a non-marital relationship, if they are also “mutually celibate”? Or would this be, as Cardinal Burke says, a “disordered relationship”?

    • I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. I believe it’s something that should be discussed amongst a couple and their spiritual fathers to discern the best solution. The problem with making a blanket statement of “it’s acceptable” or “it’s not acceptable” is that there are variations in individual circumstances that must be taken into account in order for a priest to provide compassionate yet theologically sound counsel. In some circumstances, advising a heterosexual couple that they must live separately is probably the best approach. If the couple struggles with temptation to engage in premarital sex, it would make sense for a priest to advise them not to live together. However, there are also heterosexual couples who are engaged and need to live together before they are married due to practical issues.

      I have friends who have been in this situation, and often their needs have been ignored because the priest has been more concerned about the appearance of evil than taking their circumstances into consideration. One example of a couple I’ve known in this situation is as follows: they met in law school in a smaller city and both found jobs in the city where they (and Lindsey and I) currently live. It’s *very* expensive to live here, and it’s also extremely difficult to find good housing if you’re a single person. They asked the priest in their former city for his advice on the best living situation looking forward to the move. When it became apparent that the only financially workable situation was for them to share an apartment, their priest advised them to make sure the apartment had separate sleeping areas. They did this. However, when it came to finding a location for their wedding and a priest to marry them in their new city several months later, they could not find a priest who was willing unless they were to live in separate apartments for a long period of time. It wouldn’t have even mattered if the apartments were next door to each other, so long as the exact apartment was not the same. It took them a very long time to find a way to be married in the Catholic Church, even though they were doing everything they had been counseled to do originally. It doesn’t make sense to me why this played out the way it did.

      Now, if you’re talking about a heterosexual couple who is not engaged and is intent on living in a lifelong celibate relationship under the same roof, that’s a different matter. I wouldn’t attempt to advise on what is best in this situation (or the one I recounted above) because I am not a priest. I believe that regardless of one’s life situation, if one is Catholic, Orthodox, or part of some other tradition that places significant emphasis on spiritual direction, it’s best to find a confessor and spiritual director (in some cases, those would be the same person) who will give sound counsel while also listening to and extending compassion regarding individual circumstances. I don’t like to make blanket statements, but I’ll make one here: any relationship that a person is not willing to discuss deeply with a confessor/spiritual director is rightly suspect. My question for you about this hypothetical mutually celibate, heterosexual couple is: have they sought the guidance of a priest regarding their relationship? If so, I’d have no qualms about it at all. If that couple is open about their situation with a spiritual father and he seems to be approving of it, questioning why he’s approving of it is really not my job. If I know the priest I might be interested in asking more generally what kind of advice he might give in such a situation without actually referencing the couple, but it would not be appropriate for me to ponder whether or not someone else’s relationship is “disordered.” It would also be inappropriate for me to assert that the priest should or should not be approving of such a relationship at all. Only he knows the exact circumstances that people bring to him.

      That’s my long answer. But to sum up, I think Christians would be much better off if we would all spend more time getting our own lives in order and working out our own salvation than worrying about whether other people’s behavior is “ordered” or “disordered.”

      Sarah

  6. As a Catholic who knows–and is related to–loads of people who deeply respect Cardinal Burke and take him seriously (I don’t personally know a lot about him), I hope he not only reads this, but hears it. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Having invited LGBT relatives and partners to family events, after which other relatives threw fits because I did not choose to act according to the interpretation of Church teaching just put forward by Cardinal Burke, it’s hard for me to look at that interpretation as anything less than a vicious perversion of Church teaching. The uncharity it results in is downright grotesque.

    • I hope that he and those who take him most seriously will listen to these concerns and not dismiss them as liberal, heretical whinings. As I’ve said in responses to other comments, I would be delighted to discuss these matters with Cardinal Burke if I ever had the opportunity.

      Sarah

  7. Pingback: Letting Our Opponents Define Us | Justice, Peace, Joy

  8. I don’t have a situation remotely similar to yours, and I don’t feel that I have anything intellectually worth adding to the discussion, but I wanted to thank you for this letter (and for this blog which I will now explore!) because I cherish the fact that you have the courage to continue to engage with a faith that can be overwhelmingly and negatively authoritarian and thereby destroy a democratic approach to truth (which is an approach I wholeheartedly value).
    I have found myself being pulled further and further away from any sense of “Christian faith” after years of search (and conversion from Protestant to Orthodox). By adding your voice, your unique situation enables an entirely new way to interpret faith and Christian truths; but that very act of interpretation is so often viewed as a heretical border that a blanket statement is draped over it, saying that if it doesn’t look like the normal path/relationship/life choice etc. then it’s no good. Every case does need the specific view and special treatment, not just your very unique one, but even one that appears most “orderly” and/or “normal” and/or “healthy.” This is exactly why the narrative of Christ’s love for us is so exciting……….
    I hope one day to find a spiritual father/mother that I’m not afraid of expressing my true thoughts and concerns to, so that I truly can apply his/her wisdom to my life. I’m not against an authority, just a closed-off and intimidating one. I hope this for every person, too, whether Christian or religious or whomever they call themselves. And I hope this for myself before I become entirely closed off from Christian persuasions (I don’t think I’ll ever be anti-spiritual).
    I hope you can decipher some of what I’m feeling and thinking, as this sort of got me all emotionally unwound!

    • Oops, I also wanted to say that I loved your statement:
      ” How qualified do you think parents are to determine whether or not their adult children’s souls are in a state of grace? ”
      As I think this debate on which relationships are/n’t okay is always the talk of the town at family gatherings (whether or not they’re religious families!!!!). It makes sense, as the very first linguistic communications were: a) who’s fighting with whom, b) where the food is, c) who’s sleeping with whom… all 3 things that were intrinsically important to basic societal structures and survival.

      I was the subject of a perceived problematic relationship (specifically, my date’s family were not practicing Christians) in early college years and my father was deeply disturbed as to “what the family would have to say about it” at family gatherings. What pissed me off more than anything was that this relationship (which was truly so beautiful and beneficial to me) was so much more healthy than all the gossip about 4 or 5 other family members but the legalistic fact that there was a lack of enough CHRISTIANNESS (in my date’s family!) was the thing that pushed my relationship over the border (of which I mentioned earlier) into heresy and evil. I remember my dad specifically saying I was no longer walking a holy road.

      This obsession with specific, isolated sins that we can target is so unhelpful and unhealthy. It almost always comes across as hypocritical (esp. in my case) and it’s totally oversimplified. It’s the kind of childish thing that a 4 year old will say if you try to help them wash their hands in a different process than their parents wash their hands: they’ll indignantly go “THAT’S not the way you’re supposed to do it!!!!!” Great job, you identified a difference! But a difference does not a wrong, or lesser value make!

      K, I’m done. Thanks again. <3

      • Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I’m sorry to hear that you have also experienced judgment because of a relationship and what others have perceived you to be (or not). I hope you enjoy reading our posts, and that we will see you in the comments again very soon! -Sarah

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