One of the most controversial things in ministry and evangelisation to the LGBT community is the LGBT flag and image like this one.
Now if we take a step back and consider what is happening at the moment in the Ukraine and the call for prayer, images such as this one are very common and totally accepted.
When we see the Ukraine colours we understand that we are to pray for the Ukraine people who need God’s help. We don’t think for a second that they are all saints but we we do understand and see their need for God’s mercy.
So why is it then that the LGBT flag often incites such hatred and hostility among many Christians instead of compassion and mercy?
The first obvious reason is that it’s unclear what exactly the LGBT flag represents. Is it all the LGBT people or is it the godless way of life that so many of them live?
So what message does an LGBT flag with Our Lady give?
Is it that Our Lady loves all her LGBT children and is calling them to holiness and prayer or is it that Our Lady approves of gay lifestyles and gay sex?
And i guess each person may interpret it differently unless they stop and ask us “What does that mean?”!
Now in our case we are very clear that Our Lady does not approve of gay sexual activity under any circumstances and while she’s full of love and mercy, she’s also full of truth and sincerity.
However not all LGBT Christians believe the same thing and indeed some would really hate and take offence to what they would consider to be my old fashioned and traditional stance.
I know many LGBT Catholics that argue passionately that gay sex is just as good and holy as straight sex and lengthy documents have been written to justify their reasonings.
Personally I haven’t got the least doubt about it because from the teachings of the church to personal experience and messages for Jesus, they have all shown me the same thing and that is that God does not approve of sexual acts like that.
I have made quite a few enemies over the years because of this and quite a few priests have divine their best at times to convert me to their liberal way of thinking but I’ve never changed my position.
Whether gay or straight we are all called to holiness and this requires prayer, humility and self control.
Gay people such as myself have been very often very wounded by the church but this doesn’t mean that in his mercy Jesus throws away the rulebook and allows us to do what we like as we play the victim card.
True mercy means bringing people to the truth and then helping them to live it by offering as much love and support as possible.
It is not mercy to water down the truth rather than ramp up the help, it is laziness!
God has got high standards and that’s just the way it is! He calls us to prayer and offers us the tools for conversion through the church but it’s up to us to listen or not.
And so you see that the use of the LGBT flag is tricky as it has been used at times to send many false messages and we are still praying and discerning and doing our very best to reach out in love to the LGBT community while doing our best not to cause unnecessary upset or confusion to the catholic community.
So please be patient and merciful with us if at times we get it wrong or appear to go too far in one direction or the other. Don’t fall into gossip but come and talk to us because we’d really value your feedback and perspective and above all please pray for us because this is a very tricky and controversial area of ministry and yet one that is critically important in these times.
Have a blessed week as lent begins and as we all all reminded of the call to conversion and holiness.