Monday, March 1, 2010

I'd really like to be your friend...but I think you're going to hell...?

The most interesting question that I had from a conservative Catholic at Notre Dame came after the talk was over (the LGBT people dominated the actual question period, which I was very glad off -- they had declined to participate in the panel discussion that followed my talk, which I understand, so I was glad that they had a chance to ask their questions and put their voices into the dialogue as well.) It also came to my husband, not me; basically, someone wanted to know how you could go about forming a relationship with someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. How do you start a conversation or even begin to like one another if they know from the outset that you disapprove of something that they hold to be so fundamental to who they are? It would seem like a death blow to a fledgling relationship.
And so it is. You can't start a friendship by saying, "look, I really disapprove of the way that you live your life, and I think it's sinful, and I'm really lovingly concerned that you are going to perish in eternal fire. I don't mean that in a mean way." You start a friendship with something that you can agree on. Most of the gay and lesbian friends that I have made were somewhat surprised when they realized that my Catholicism was actually orthodox. They assumed that it was cultural, or whatever, until we were already friends. Which is not dishonest, or tricksy, or whatever: think about it, when you make a friend with someone, anyone, how do you start off? No one, or at least no one with even remotely functional social skills, starts a friendship by trying to argue about the other person's personal life. That's just disfunctional. Later, if it becomes appropriate within the relationship, you can bring these issues up respectfully. But you have to start with the things that you agree about, the things that you like about one another, the bases for a relationship and for a genuine, concrete, personal love.

1 comment:

  1. I have met both Nervous-Nelly and Fireball temperaments, among my Conservative, and Way Out There friends.

    When you mix two Nervous-Nellies, one conservative and one Out There, you get a double-dose of anxiety. When you mix two fireballs, you get a double dose of Explosive Situation. When you mix the two, you get one of the two beating a hasty retreat.

    In all the above scenarios, it's easy to see how such a fundamental disagreement does rather put a damper on things, friends-wise.



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