How do we talk about this with others?
I’m totally cool with the Church’s teaching on this topic, but I have friends and family members who aren’t. How do I talk about this with them?
“There are not a hundred people in America that hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church – which is, of course, quite a different thing.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
First Things First
Our first question, when it comes to sharing Church teaching with others, is whether or not we truly know what the Church teaches. The Church is a huge body, made out of broken people, and sometimes very well-intentioned people say incorrect, hurtful things that they truly believe to be Truth. If you want to speak as a Catholic, then before you even think about having a conversation with anyone on this (or any other) topic, make sure you really know and understand the Church’s teaching.
The next step would be to make sure that you’re having these conversations in the context of a relationship – as a brother or sister in Christ. Whether the person you’re talking to experiences same-sex attraction or not, does that person know that you love him? Does she understand that you care about her? Does he clearly hear, from your words, tone, and body language, that you want what’s best for him? Does she know that you love the Church, and Truth, and the Lord, and you’re just trying to share what you’ve learned?
If we go out into the world just to prove that we’re right, we aren’t going to share anything helpful with anyone, period. The best apologetics (the practice of defending the faith) is done with a lot of listening.
We’d also advise you to make sure that it’s a conversation – not a lecture. It’s important to consider whether or not this person even wants to hear what you’re saying. Sometimes people are just trying to pick a fight, sometimes they haven’t asked to hear what the Church teaches, and sometimes they’ve heard the teachings and aren’t convinced. Don’t keep talking if the conversation is over, because you will only cause unintentional hurt and pain.
It’s Up to Them, Not You
As much as we want everyone to know the Truth, people must choose to accept Truth for themselves. That was how Jesus did it. He shared who he was and what he knew, knowing that many would reject him and the Truth. But he shared it anyway, because true love wills the good of the beloved, and Christ came to love us all truly.
There are people in my life that I love and respect greatly who think the Church has got it wrong when it comes to some of the more culturally-accepted views on things like same-sex marriage, contraception, and the ordination of women. And even though we have different views, we can still talk about it respectfully and lovingly.
Honestly, yes, we’re probably both aiming for some kind of conversion on the other side. But we also want to learn from one another. And we still like to talk to each other. We wouldn’t be able to have conversations like that if we didn’t truly love one another first. It’s a blessing to have those conversations because it challenges us to think critically and examine our beliefs. And it’s amazing motivation to make sure that we truly understand what the Church teaches and why.
Walk the Walk
The way you live your life is your best argument in defense of the Church’s teachings. We are all called to a lifetime of chastity, even as some of us are called to a lifetime of celibacy.
If you aren’t committed to living chastity, how could you ask anyone else to be? Not that you’re perfect – we are all works in progress – but there’s a lot to be said for walking the walk, not just talking the talk. St. Francis of Assisi said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” St. James wrote that we must “be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
Your every act should be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:14). When it comes to sharing Church teaching with others, make sure that you always come from a place of love… because there are far too many former-Catholics out there who have left the Church because someone with great intentions said something cruel to them.
There will be times when you should speak out. There will also be times where you should stay quiet. If you are a person of prayer, then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you to know the difference.