There is so much divide in our Catholic Church between types of Masses, social justice, controversial issues, politics, and more. Dialogue can be good when done with open hearts and compassion and one doesn’t need to sacrifice truth for this, but many are turned away by harsh words and pointed judgments. How are we to evangelize if we speak words of hate and condemnation?
I recently responded to a post from someone in the LGBTQ community who was trying to grow into Catholic life. The post was met with a mix of responses, like many before it. Some would say to repent or go to hell, some would say it’s okay because God will love you anyway, and some would say repent because God loves you and it’s okay that you struggle. Let’s unpack that.
First, outright telling a person they’re going to hell if they don’t change their ways isn’t always wrong, but it’s likely not the most encouraging way to help the person change. Who are we to measure another’s cross? If they receive only negativity, the weight or stress of feeling hopeless unless they climb that mountain today and no later will ultimately make them crumble. This isn’t the love God wants us to show, even if the words are true.
Second, while the intentions may be founded in love, telling someone it’s okay that they sin because God still loves them isn’t helping their soul. (In other news, it isn’t helping your soul either!) We cannot be simply tolerant because that’s not true love. True love doesn’t mean allowing a person to harm themselves because you feel correction will hurt their feelings. True love is much more and is willing to rip open a scar in order to clean out an infection.
Lastly, the just correction is a way of understanding and compassion. I could tell my child, “I love you and I want you to cross the street to play with your friend, but do as I say and look both ways first.” A simple rule filled with love, reinforcing the desire for happiness and the best way to achieve it. We don’t need to condone the sin in order to show love, nor should we throw an iron fist to condemn the entire person. Showing love and correction can be done respectfully and honestly through the gifts of the Spirit.
I was happy to see that most responses were this way. People encouraged him to seek council, pray, repent and keep repenting. He was told that he was loved and his temptation didn’t condemn him but his actions did matter. He responded well to this and it seems he’s on the right path. Are we? For as Paul said, “all fall short.” Let’s lift one another up and encourage one another through love and truth, together.