Fr Martin SJ seems to have a problem. He’s all for welcoming LGBTQ people, but when a couple of gay Christians celebrate their faith and their love at Christmas he gets all sniffy and self righteous
I’m talking about the gay nativity. Maybe you’ve seen it? A nice gay couple put out a festive scene featuring two Josephs and a Christ child. Both of the Josephs look pretty in pink.
When asked, Fr James SJ tweeted about it saying,
I’ve been asked about the “Gay Nativity” display. So: it’s banal. I’m all for welcoming LGBT people, but this silly take on a sacred story serves mainly to annoy. God loves everyone, including LGBT people. But those who first loved his Son were Joseph and Mary. Honor them both.
It’s “banal” and “annoying” and “silly”. But some members of the gay community didn’t think it was banal and silly. In fact they were upset with Fr Martin for criticizing it. Someone responded to Fr Martin tweeting back:
What you’re missing here is, while the idea of Jesus having two fathers may seem silly to you straight people, to gay folks, it isn’t. It’s a powerful affirmation of their right to exist in religious space that has systematically excluded them. Don’t call it banal.
In other words, we should not take the gay nativity as a cute gay joke or a silly statement. It was serious.
But going back to Fr Martin’s tweet:
Let’s analyze his typically bland (and deceptive) analysis.
First he sets up a statement that no one can disagree with: “God loves everyone”. Yes of course. Including LGBT people. Yes of course. We knew that already.
The fact of the matter is, Fr Martin is skipping through a minefield here tossing out sweet little posies like, “God loves everyone!” while avoiding the real issue.
The real issue is this: some of the men who have sex with men who Fr Martin would like to welcome into the church have put up a display for the public which portrays St Joseph as a man who has sex with men. And this is just “banal and silly”? I think it is worse than that, but let’s move on.
There is a more interesting angle to this.
Gay sex is either good or it is not good. Whenever Fr Martin is asked a direct question on this he always says something Jesuitical like, “The church’s teaching on this is clear.” In this way he always “supports church teaching” while remaining suitably ambiguous and “pastoral”.
The question remains. Is gay sex good or not?
Is the answer simply to shrug and say, “Who am I to judge?”
I think we should have an answer. Is gay sex good or bad?
If gay sex is good–which Fr Martin must believe (otherwise he would not support New Ways Ministry) then the gay nativity is good. If gay sex is good then it should be celebrated not just tolerated. If it is to be celebrated, then why not celebrate it with a gay nativity? If men who have sex with men are to be welcomed to the church, then why should they not express their faith and celebrate their love with a gay nativity set?
Apparently Fr Martin thinks it is okay for men who have sex with men to kiss each other at Mass–so why is the gay nativity “banal, silly and annoying”?
I think Fr Martin should come out and say what he really thinks.
Either celebrate gay sex or don’t. But let’s not do this subtle, snaky thing where you tell us to welcome men who have sex with men into the church and then when they do a Catholic thing like put up their own nativity set, start tut tutting like an old maid and say it is banal, annoying and silly.
Fr Martin wants to welcome LGBTQ folks to the Catholic Church, but then he says they shouldn’t celebrate their love and their lifestyle in a suitably Catholic way? This is what Catholics do at Advent. They put up nativity sets. These are gay men and they put up a gay nativity set. This is what Fr Martin and the folks at New Ways Ministry want isn’t it?
For that matter what about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? Shall we welcome them as a Catholic group? They are not just a performance group, but present themselves as a charity. In celebrating and welcoming gays to the Catholic Church does Fr Martin also celebrate the wonderful charitable work the Sisters do?
Are these the LGBTQ folks Fr Martin wishes to welcome? If not, why not?
I have a feeling that Fr Martin’s attitude is rather bourgeois and safe. He’s saying to the LBGTQ community–
“All are welcome, but please behave yourself. We want you to be nice, respectable gays. Please don’t sing YMCA and do all that flamboyant Liberace stuff.”