And you eventually realize that God doesn't have a problem with gay people.
This is actually a hugely important point. Every since the Reformation, Christianity has focused on rituals and people doing exactly as they are told. It overlooks one of my immutable rules of life -- the map is not the territory. The church is willing to bend rules for their own on subjects like pedophilia and greed and violence. But they are too anxious to use those rules to condemn their followers.
Part of this was the idea that people would eventually cave and fall in line. After all, they had been condition into believing that the church was their only way to salvation. This runs counter to the very actions of Jesus Christ, who felt His own religion was not concerned with the well-being of its followers anymore and struck out on His own. People have the right to seek a new understanding. If the truths really are that self-evident, they will return. If they don't, guess what -- maybe you didn't know as much as you thought.
Homosexuality has become the biggest battleground among the faithful. Not living in luxury, not lobbying for laws and control, but the existence of gays. Once again, a lot of hubbub over something ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of things while the real problems fester. People looking for an excuse to discriminate will point to one of only two places where homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible and say that means that gays should be either put to death or "corrected."
(I would like to point out this proves they are cherry picking from the Bible to support their discrimination. Jesus advised against divorce, but plenty of Christians not only divorce, it is encourgaed in some situations, and there are plenty of support groups. Not only is their no judgment, it is expected -- I've had women refuse to get involved with me because I don't have at least one divorce in my history by this point, so there is something wrong with me. That same book of the Bible that says being gay is an abomination also says a woman should be a virgin when she marries, and if she isn't, she should be put to death. No one does that. And yet, if the Bible truly is where all their personal opinions come from, these people should be doing heinous acts because their "beliefs" say so. They are selectively discriminating. They are cheating.)
People hoping the church would become more accepting of gays had a long wait ahead of them. In 1986, the head of the Vatican's orthodoxy office spelled out that gays were immoral. This particular person eventually became Pope Benedict, who in 2003 released a statement condemning same-sex marriage. This became official policy.
And then, we got Pope Francis.
Francis has gotten a lot of heat from the Establishment because he actually wants to help the poor, he sacked church officials who lived high on the hog, and so on. A man who talks about mercy and understanding, a lot of people wondered what he would say on homosexuality. He stuck with the party line.
For the most part. In 2013, he famously said of homosexuals, "Who am I to judge?"
This has actually had a trickle-down effect, and it's a good one. This week, the Vatican, for the first time, held a meeting to discuss gays and lesbians and how to provide better spiritual care and understanding to them. And a lot of the higher-ups are drifting away from the party line and talking about them as human beings and they are trying to be understanding and not condemn them. Don't get me wrong, I still don't see this as anything other than pointless babbling. But for an organization that has been solid as concrete against civil rights, the fact that they are considering it is HUGE.
A lot of it has to do with Francis himself. He may not always be as progressive as you would like, but he's trying. He's giving consideration. He's showing some heart. And this is encouraging others to drop the seige mentality and start relating to the world around them as human beings instead of demigods.
It'll be a long time before the Catholic church recognizes gays and gay marriage. In fact, whoever becomes pope next, I expect to rubber band the church right back to their hard line stances. A Catholic writer in Europe recently wrote a piece that Americans, by accepting gays, are going to destroy the Catholic church, and will make organizations like the Protestants the true champions of Christ in the world, since they won't bend to the will of sinners.
The Catholic church realizes they need to think about this stuff. The others will, too. It'll take time, but progress by inches is still progress.