Malta has passed a law allowing gay marriage. The country is split into two blocks: the gay-liberal against the conservative-Catholics. One is in full mode celebration; the other is in deep fear, anger and resentment. One is celebrating the gained privileges of marriage, the other feels their privilege has been taken away. Each segment brings their arguments, activism, defences and discourses. Some discourse is well thought of; others it’s just pure inhibited hate speech. The end result is an invisible wall dividing this society.
There is a small segment of people ignored by these two mainstream groups (including the institutions backing them up). Between these men and women attacking each other rests the freaks. I specifically use the word freaks because it is exactly this label which is not uttered but thought of about gay Catholics. They are viewed suspiciously by both segments. They bring a discourse and form of living which doesn’t resonate with the fixed ideologies presented by both. The freaks might admire both ends hard work, but they also tend to see beyond the glitters of any ideology (and there is a good amount of glitters in both gay clubs and sacristies).
I am not just referring to those gay Catholics who have decided freely to live celibate lives. Far from it. The lived experience of gay Catholics is multivariate in form. Some are in long term committed gay relationships while others are single but still seeking a relationship. What defines gay Catholics is their willingness to accept sexuality and merge it with their religion. They have done a conscious decision to choose Christ, and know that by way of choosing one is limiting possibilities and embarking upon a form of living that lives up to that choice. They are ready to be scandalised by their own selves in coming into terms with their chosen life decision. Such activity entails a patient bearing towards self-awareness and discernment. It’s a life project and not a haphazard endeavor. The reaction to such a scenario already irritates some members of the gay or Christian community, just because the rules of their code are not followed entirely.
These freaks tend to hide from the limelight. They hide because they hate the modus operandi of this world of selling false identities. They hide and observe just the same, carrying within them the paradox of both groups. Such people struggle authentically to try and find a common ground between the two ideologies away from political espionage, privileged desires and unresolved childish traumas. They’re the patiently long sufferers who ponder thoroughly on today’s events and empathise with both emotions of the binaries. A sort of bittersweetness lingers concerning the present situation of society.
A twofold message
Such freaks bring a message to both rival blocks. Mine is the following:
To the gay activists, one must first appreciate and notice the hard dedication of fighting injustice. The understanding of marriage and the way how it was a means to distinguish people from people is a reality, and it is only logical that for the sake of equality gay marriage was sought. But, with all the benefits of marriage comes also the dark side of marriage. And our best example, as it has always been, is the straight. Their idea of marriage throughout history is flawed with examples of shaming, betrayals, domestic violence, control and many other violent injustices within the matrimonial household. Now that society has opened the gate of marriage for gays as well, will they also contribute to this dark side of the family with their own flaws? That will happen as well, and it’s high time that as a society we start healing the issues in relation to our own flawed gay lives. By simply saying that these problems we are faced with are also present in the straight is no excuse. Now that the circle of entitlement has been expanded, with it comes as well the expansion of responsibility.
I wonder how I will feel when I attend a gay marriage ceremony and observe the couple. Will I feel like I usually do when I attend a straight marriage ceremony in Church? More often than not when I attend a wedding ceremony I somewhat see that the couple have no real idea why they are getting married. I do not hate the celebration of the union but I only see a line of assembly under the false imaging of achieved-happiness. To such a scenario I feel utter grief. This is the reality that we live in, we have turned marriage to be a sort of commodity. The buck stops with you.
To the Church, my message in such circumstances of powerlessness is one: it’s time to reconsider the authenticity of our own lifestyles in relation to Christ. The history of marriage is not just about making babies. Although it should be the definitive characteristic of the fruits of marriage the way how it is working out leaves a lot to be desired. Marriage has been used as the measurement that distinguishes the flock. The way how marriage was employed was as a means to have a better social position, to benefit from more privileges and even to create a false image of peace and social fulfilment. In Maltese when a man marries we tend to say that “Issa ha l-istat tieghu” (Now, he has achieved his status). Also, to the woman who never gets married, we tended to say “baqgħet fuq l-ixkaffa” (she remained on the shelf, referring to spinsters). These familiar phrases manifest how our society has judged people through attaching value to marriage and indirectly ridicule those who end up out of these models.
Is it just me that couples following marriage end up living in a sort of bubble detached from the rest of society under the guise that family life is time-consuming, and forgetting that in reality marriage is first and foremost a chosen vocation that must share within the body of Christ (the church)? We have turned marriage from a sacrament to a line of assembly, not just for baby production. Honestly, a pure reductionism of the pneumatika. It is now the time, especially now that the Church is becoming smaller and losing its influential power in society, to regain that true spirit of marriage with Christ. Indeed, the Church must repent, not feel guilty, but repent in changing its behaviour towards the authentic exercises of its faith. In choosing Christ, we must follow that choice, away from illusions and other fabrications that provide familiarity. The Catholic treasures contained by the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love are the essential identity of the Church. They are the foundations of our religion and are to be exhibited to the world in radical ways. But before they can be exhibited they are to be granted to us by constant dedication towards the Beloved Christ away from illusions. The buck stops with you.
By way of conclusion, if the freaks are forced to choose between the two clear positions then I wouldn’t be surprised that they will neither choose the right nor the left side. Rather, they would choose Christ above any human ideology. Even though faced with utter suspicion and ridicule they will choose to be freaks for Christ.
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