This is the holiest time of the year. Yet, the headline of Christ’s death and resurrection has been usurped by the two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court related to the definition of marriage. The conversation about homosexuality and same-sex marriage has reached a sort of frenzy as people have waited in line to get a seat at the Supreme Court, as reporters have tried to guess what the justices are thinking, and as everyone’s comments and opinions have taken over social media.
Despite how common this issue is right now, it can be a difficult one to address with our teens because it is such a polarized topic. We do our youth an injustice if we never talk about it, though. They need to know what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality and marriage, and why the two don’t go together.
Teens’ Point of View
This year’s juniors were tweens when Katy Perry “Kissed a Girl.” Homosexual or bisexual characters have been and are a regular part of mainstream television. It is safe to say that in teens’ purview, homosexuality has never been swept under the carpet. Thus, generally speaking, the topic is not taboo or difficult to talk about for them. Because of this, it may be hard for them to see why it’s such a big deal that the Catholic Church says that homosexual actions are “intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2357).
Nevertheless, do not give up on proclaiming the truth about gender, marriage, and procreation. If you do not share our Catholic beliefs, where will they ever hear the truth proclaimed?
Don’t Be Afraid
Do not be afraid to talk with the youth about this subject. Spend some time brushing up on what we believe as Catholics. Check out the Catechism and read resources on the USCCB; know what we believe and why.
Then, bring it up in conversation. Listen to what the teens say. Find out what they think Catholics believe. Find out what they personally believe. Knowing where they are coming from will help as you calmly explain Catholic teaching. Help youth to see how homosexual actions are “contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” (CCC 2357).
At the same time, talk about how they can be compassionate, without condoning a homosexual lifestyle, to those who have same-sex attraction. As the Catechism says, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (2358).
To treat someone with compassion does not mean that they get whatever they want, though. Explain what marriage is really about. Don’t feel like you have to know everything before you enter into conversation. Sure, this topic opens up veins into things like contraception, IVF, and the importance of gender, but if we wait until we’re experts in all these areas, we’ll never have the conversation.
For the teens that are on board with what the Catholic Church teaches, offer encouragement. It will no doubt be difficult for them to stand up for the truth. Even though there is an outcry that same-gender couples should be able to be “married,” it is not a hate crime on our part to disagree. There is nothing wrong with standing up for our beliefs. In fact, Jesus told us that “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15: 18-19).
It should be no surprise that we might hear some nasty things while expressing our beliefs as Catholics. Help youth to know how and when it will be productive to add their voice to the conversation.
At your next Core Team meeting, plan ample time to talk about this subject. This gives the Core Team a safe place to express their feelings and opinions about this topic — not in front of the teens. It also gives you an opportunity to make sure everyone will be able to clearly explain what we believe as Catholics.
Provide them with a simple handout with a snapshot of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and marriage. It’s important that the Core Team is all on the same page what Catholic Church teaches and why, as well as making sure you all have the same approach.
Finally, do not get discouraged. It will probably take multiple conversations and talks to help teens begin to grasp the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. Nevertheless, if you don’t take that first step, teens may never hear the truth.
Be encouraged and proclaim the truth with boldness.
Here are some references for further reading on this topic: