Summer is coming, the sun is shining, lockdown is ending and durex have reported an increase in sales!
Welcome to the world of evangelisation in a society of casual sex!!
Over the years my thoughts on this have evolved a lot so here goes!!
Newly converted Michael read the catechism and spoke to His uncle Thomas. Sex was a very grave sin outside of marriage as was masturbation and so Michael avoided all occasions sin by avoiding a lot of people.
This approach seemed to work ok as long as I didn’t mix in non catholic circles or in other words, as long as I didn’t evangelise!
But as my life developed God kept putting one thing on my heart….the gay community and it just wouldn’t go away.
Priests would give out to me and tell me that I was too weak, that I was playing with fire, that me mingling in the gay community was like a recovering alcoholic evangelising in a brewery and yet it wouldn’t go away!!
And so even when I spent the year in the seminary I occasionally visited gay meeting places during holidays etc. And despite the paralyzing fear of getting caught and kicked out, every time I mingled with gay people I found an amazing peace over me.
I’d find myself in sex saunas where men were having sex together all around me and yet I’d also find myself striking up very interesting conversations with some of these men.
Now I won’t lie and say that I never engaged in some sexual activity myself because at times I did despite my best efforts not to but that was beside the point. In prayer I’d find Jesus telling me that I’d done far more good than bad and not to over dramatize my weakness.
My uncle Thomas was like a sniffer dog at the airport. Despite living in different countries he’d harass me into telling him where I went, what I did and leave me filled with shame and doubt!
And yet my question was this: “In light of the lack of love and support for gay people growing up, is God really that obsessed with them not having sex?”
After all, sexual purity is an acquired virtue that one grows in through prayer and community. However considering most gay people were shamed and often deprived of both prayer and community, it hardly comes as a surprise years later that they are highly sexually active!
Was God speaking through my uncle Thomas? Was God really so harsh and unreasonable and judgemental? It just didn’t fit!
And so as I prayed I felt God continuing to say to “mercy” to me and that He understood the gay community and that the journey to Jesus wasn’t about forcing people to be chaste but was my helping them bit by bit to get to know Jesus while not obsessing on their sex lives!
So could someone love Jesus and be having gay sex then? Putting it bluntly, yes! It might not be a perfect love but people can only do their best and God knows that.
To the “chastity police” this is an abomination because they see every sexual fall as a mortal sin and show little mercy or understanding for human weakness. This type of attitude is very common in church circles and fills new converts with terrible fear, shame and anxiety.
But Jesus’ approach is different. He is gentle, kind and understanding and while He is constantly growing us in holiness, He is also constantly aware of our weaknesses.
Casual sex in our modern world is just like a cigarette. It has become normalised and while this is not a good thing, we have to be real.
Making too much of a big deal out of sexual sins will just turn people away from God and make him out to be a dictator while ignoring sexual sins and saying that they don’t matter won’t help much either!
So obviously the solution is one of mercy, compassion, prayer, understanding, community, vulnerability, forgiveness and love while not fixating on sex!
There is far more to holiness than chastity and there are far more sins than sex!
And so today as I ponder on the lot of it and the challenges of evangelisation in a highly sexualised world I think that Jesus is providing the church with an opportunity to better understand his mercy and to get a better handle on the place sex.
Jesus is calling His church to His heart of love and mercy and healing and away from the rigidity of rules and doctrines and fear.
We can only hope that our church leaders encounter the living Lord and become real pastors of mercy and care, forever trusting in God’s patient mercy while growing souls in holiness and wholeness.
Let us remember, it’s not about being perfect but it’s about loving a lot!
Have a great day!