Sunshine, buttercups, and rainbow flags

I understand the idea of incrementalism. I understand accepting people where they are, accompanying them, and praying with them as they gradually become more open to the fullness of the truth, whether they’re deeply invested in a homosexual relationship or deeply invested in a contraceptive relationship. You can’t accompany someone unless they decide walk through the door, so you want that door to look as welcoming as possible. Plant flowers. Put a fresh coat of paint. Hang a rainbow flag. It is our job to be loving first, so as to make it possible for people to receive the law and then identify it as the same thing as love. I understand this.

But where do we draw the line between accompaniment and bait and switch?

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image by BookMama via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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8 thoughts on “Sunshine, buttercups, and rainbow flags”

  1. There’s something off-putting, because it sounds smug and self-satisfied, in both your paragraph addressing “actual Catholic teaching” and the paragraph that follows. The conclusions are too easily drawn, because they count on the static-ness of Catholic teaching. I don’t think that your friend, or any of the other Catholics who advocate for welcoming LGBT people, are suggesting flying rainbow flags for “marketing”- they truly want a change. The assessment that the church is “not going to change” is very pat. Doctrine has evolved and it will continue. There are a lot of lay Catholics, priests, deacons etc who are praying and working within the institution of the church towards that change.

    1. Dear Marta,

      I’m sorry you found the two paragraphs “off-putting, because it sounds smug and self-satisfied.” I read them differently. I found them honest, helpful, and admirably sensitive to the pain that homosexual people might feel in being encouraged to enter the Catholic Church, only to realize that the Catholic Church teaches homosexual acts are immoral. You may disagree with Simcha’s assessment that the Church’s teaching is not going to change on this issue, but Simcha was trying to put herself in the shoes of a homosexual person and imagine what it would be like to be told one thing and then encounter something else. Her point was not, “Homosexual people need to change.” Rather, her point was, “Given the reality of the Catholic Church’s teaching, we need to be welcoming to homosexuals in a way that is honest and does not set them up for disappointment, frustration, and deep pain.” Maybe she’s wrong about the “reality of the Catholic Church’s teaching” bit, but I don’t think she’s trying to be smug, but trying to be sensitive and thoughtful to other people’s pain.


  2. “Real, live, healthy couples who love each other and enjoy sex do sometimes find NFP manageable and marriage-building, without years and years of harrowing angst and trauma while they figure it out. Their experience is valid and worth acknowledging.”

    And then they are the ones that become NFP instructors, NOT the ones who had a hard or even impossible time. And they talk about the wonderful experience they had; although they are being truthful for themselves, it’s not anywhere close to the reality for otehrs.

    So there’s a bit of a feedback loop in the sunshine and buttercups messaging.

  3. My husband and I are ones that NFP turned out to be marriage building for…but only because we knew going in that it would be hard. My parents were ones for whom it was somewhat traumatic, and they were honest with me when I was old enough to understand it.

      1. Lots of things are, I think. Reality matching expectation just is easier, even if reality is objectively hard. Like, my informal anecdata indicates that moms are much more chill about their fifth 3-year-old than their first. By then, you know it’s just what 3-year-olds are like. No reason NFP usage would be different. 🙂

  4. A thoughtful piece – and I appreciate having the the bait-and-switch concept put into words.

    I also appreciate your acknowledgement that, yes, NFP does come easily and naturally to some of us. Maybe it helps to have started young – both with the mindset and the tracking? Two decades of high fertility without a single surprise baby does happen! I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s helpful I think to truly and accurately present *all*experiences of NFP.

    1. And perhaps I should clarify that by “easily and naturally” I mean as easily and naturally as anything related to marriage or childraising — neither of them being as easy or natural, say, as reclining in a sunlit garden all day eating truffles and reading Wodehouse.

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