Note from Brittny: After having a conversation about reconciling my faith and sexuality here, I began speaking with other GLBT/LGBT people of faith about their stories. I remembered learning of Kacy’s faith during an episode of The Real L Word. I contacted her to ask her a few questions about reconciling her sexuality with Christianity. That’s when she told me she identified as Catholic, but not Christian. I spent a major portion of my life Catholic, which to me is a denomination of Christianity, so I was intrigued by her separation of the two. I asked if she could clarify and she sent me the post below. I’m curious to know how many of you also feel this way. Particularly within the GLBT/LGBT community, I know it’s always been a battle to label yourself as Christian, so are you more comfortable with a particular label such as Catholic? I’d really like to know your thoughts so feel free to leave them in the comments section or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m sure this goes without saying but just to clarify, the views expressed below are those of Kacy’s, not Open Our Eyes. We feel it’s very important not to censor our guest bloggers and allow them to express themselves wholeheartedly which creates honest dialogue within our community. As always, we welcome your thoughts/comments/observations… but please be respectful. This post ties in with our Freedom theme for this month because we’re all free to define our faith by our own terms – don’t be afraid to do so. Also, be sure to watch Kacy and her friends on the season three premiere of The Real L Word on Thursday at 9PM CST on Showtime. You can also follow Kacy on Twitter.
I was asked to answer the question, “What’s the difference between Catholics and Christians?” But before I answer, let me give you some context. This is just my opinion based on observations. If I have offended anyone, I apologize and am open to dialogue.
I don’t define myself by a religion. I am not religious. I do not belong to a church, or any place of worship otherwise named. My Sunday ritual involves kissing my wife, making some coffee, and usually doing laundry.
So why do I often speak about spirituality if I do not define myself or link myself to a specific religion? Honestly, because I was raised Catholic, and despite years of trying to distance myself from it, there are values that I hold dear that happen to link up with Catholic practices. And, in all honesty, I love some of those rituals.
I think it’s more important to distinguish that while I am comfortable with someone calling me a Catholic, I would never define myself as a Christian. But how can I call myself a Catholic and not a Christian, when they are all apart of the same general community? I say, they are fundamentally different, and I will articulate those differences now.
Catholics defected from Christianity a long time ago, and as I studied it more, I realized that as a theorist and an “ENTP” (Meyer’s Briggs), my intuitive big picture thinking makes me psychologically more disposed to Catholicism – which is derived from the Latin word: katholikos – “Concerning the whole”. Catholics talk about the trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christians seem much more focused on Jesus, and Jesus only. Catholics are interested in the entire picture, and I can get down with that.
The other fundamental difference is the confessional thing. Catholics confess their sins and seek to be absolved. There is inherent judgment in life, and Catholic guilt is famous for being the most over-bearing. Most people are turned off by this, but in context, and I mean the current social context, confession can be like therapy. Christians don’ believe in confession, but in my experience, they are no strangers to judgment. What I love about Catholicism is that sin is written in to the rules. It is human nature to not live up to the standards written in the bible. Catholics thought of that and wrote in a get out of jail free card with confession – again, big picture thinking.
But my favorite thing about Catholicism is this: Catholicism honors femininity. Okay, Okay, I will agree that sexism is rampant throughout the bible and that the whole male priest thing and the whole virgin/whore dichotomy remain prevalent in that religion. That being said, the second most well known prayer in Catholicism is the Hail Mary. Catholics pray to Mary all of the time. Her statue is in every church, her image is on most candles, and in most Catholic countries She’s the symbol. Females are sacred, honored, worshipped, and prayed to.
I have fond memories of lighting candles in an empty church in NY, looking up at Mary and praying for the safe keeping of my family during 9-11. I remember saying my favorite prayer, the “Memorare” during my darkest hours, and knowing I was heard.
As a woman who loves women, I find solace in a religion that allows us to honor and be guided by women. This is also true of Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism.
Christianity, on the other hand, is very male dominated. When you think of leaders in the Christian faith, you think of men like Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. These are some charismatic, opinionated, out-spoken men that enjoy the spotlight and know how to capture an audience. And the women who stand out in Christianity need to be even more out-spoken, to the point of sheer myopia like Anita Bryant – for those of you who know your gay history.
This is not a rant against Christianity, but more of an observation. Catholicism, by its very nature, is negotiated. It takes into account the larger picture of life, and allows you to take what is needed, and leave the rest. More than any other Religion, I would argue that Catholics are the least like their leader than any other followers. We strive to make our religion fit into our life, and not the other way around, and we are unapologetic about that. That has certainly been my experience, but alas, I have never been Christian, so I cannot say for sure what anyone else’s process has been.
Catholics are realists – although I would argue that most of leaders of Catholicism are corrupt, arrogant, and hypocritical. We focus on the reality of human nature, and how we can strive to be better by following a strong example of goodness, but ultimately, it’s up to us to want it, walk it, and be better.
Hopefully that answers the question. If not, I can clarify where ever needed.