William H. Kewell IV, Class of 2003, responds to “LGBT Students of UD Recount Struggles for Acceptance” published in the March 24, 2015 issue.
A fellow University of Dallas alumnus shared with me the article recently published in The University News regarding the struggles of homosexual students trying to gain acceptance at the University of Dallas. I think it is important to understand the word “acceptance” and what it means in this context. According to dictionary.com, the definition of the word “acceptance” in this context is “a favorable reception; approval; favor.”
The University of Dallas is a Catholic university; it abides by the teachings of the Church, its Magisterium and most importantly, the words of Christ given while He was present here on earth. Those words, sometimes so mysterious and sometimes so emphatic, are the governing truths of our lives as Christians.
Christ did not seem to emphasize “acceptance.” He emphasized mercy, forgiveness, charity, virtue, prayer, the beatitudes, sacrifice and persecution. Christ did, however, engage with the sinners of His time — the unfavorable characters of Judea. So often in our limited understanding of Christ’s relationship with these people and in hopes of rationalizing our sinful ways we conclude that Christ accepted these people despite their imperfections or sinful lives.
It is safe to say Christ did nothing of the sort. He offered them forgiveness. He offered them mercy. The operative word is “offered.” Christ told them definitively, “This is what I am: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Christ asked that we offer our lives for Him in the same way He offered His for us. What does that entail, that we offer up our lives for Christ? At its fundamental core it means we lead virtuous lives. This is a lifelong endeavor.
I don’t think people go to college thinking they should be “accepted” for their struggles, insecurities or propensities to sin. Heterosexual or homosexual, it is not a university’s job to show public support for your sexual exploits. Add to that equation a university that publicly holds itself as a Catholic institution, and now you have the truth to uphold.
If the title of the article read “Heterosexual Struggles to Find Acceptance,” the university’s response should be the same: no need for acceptance, only virtue and forgiveness.
The truth, the teachings of the Church according to reason, faith and scripture, holds that certain sexual impurities are sinful and not to be “accepted” or “tolerated.” Among those sexual impurities are artificial contraception, fornication, premarital sex and essentially any act that detracts from the unitive and procreative elements of the intimacy found only within marriage. The moral teachings of our human sexuality are not the results of a democratic election or the whimsical decisions of a tyrant, but absolute truths.
These absolute truths represent the struggle in our moral lives and remind us that we are all sinners and all called to the same life of purity: purity in our lives as single people (religious or not) and purity in our lives as married people. Making public overtures for acceptance of one way of life or another is antithetical to our lives as Christians. When Christ approached the tax collectors, prostitutes and the rest of the discarded humanity of His time, He did not see them as such but as sinners in need of His mercy.
The need for us to label ourselves within specific categorical definitions, like our gender orientation, is brought on by our secular culture’s desire to rationalize and justify immoral ideologies. As Christians we must see beyond these human constructs and discern the truth that transcends this temporal world.
Emphasis on “sin” or “unacceptance” can often upset the listener or the reader, but when we contemplate the crucifixion of Christ, we come to the obvious realization that His path would not be an easy one to follow. But He gave us a cheat sheet. He gave us all the answers to the test before taking it. The test is life and the answer is grace. We ask Him for it, He will give it.
Christ spoke of forgiveness and mercy to sinners. But, in order to receive those gifts, we as sinners must repent. We don’t get acceptance, favorable reception or approval. We get the sacraments: mercy and ultimately eternal salvation. To participate in those gifts, we have to give of ourselves and that begins with the struggle to live lives of virtue. We are all called to it without exception. Sinners do not ask for acceptance, we ask for forgiveness.