God’s Defects

“Defective” was the word used by a fellow parishioner to describe homosexuals. I gaped at his callous response and asked him to clarify. This young man had completed his first year as a Ph.D. student of microbiology and he was of the mind that sexuality was designed for procreation and that sex is reserved between a man and a woman.

My conservative comrade’s comments certainly do typify how some Catholics feel about homosexuality. He also believed that sterile heterosexual couples should still be permitted to marry, contradicting as this might seem to the original argument. He also held the view that couples not intent on having children should also be allowed to marry. The Church agrees that marriage serves a greater purpose between a couple than just the propagation of the species.

Perhaps more disturbing was his terminology to refer to same-sex attraction as a “defect”. However, to illustrate his point, my friend said that a person born blind does not possess the full range of abilities that a prototypical human does. In the same way, a homosexual person’s attractions prevent him or her from procreating. I asked him if he thought God makes mistakes. He said, “I believe mistakes were made,” but he did not confess that God Himself makes mistakes. I, of course, do not believe that God makes mistakes.

Due to his expanded definition, I of course had a multi-faceted interest in this argument, not only due to my own sexual identity, but also the fact that my brother has special needs. I am of the mind that life is precious and God does create each individual uniquely, not all possessing the same physical assets, intellectual prowess, or mental and emotional capabilities. I found his assessment to be uncompassionate and unloving.

Moreover, to “other” people as it were, runs very much counter to what Jesus taught. Jesus was not known for catering to the power elite or adhering to societal norms. His “turn the other cheek” notion was unheard of to a people that long believed an eye for an eye was justifiable.

Jesus had a habit of associating Himself with those deemed undesirable by society. He would minister to the lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors, oftentimes to the chagrin of others. However, Jesus did not back down from those marginalized by the world.

I recently attended a retreat in Racine, WI, where Fr. Anthony Gittins of the Chicago Theological Union was the presenter. Fr. Anthony said that God created a world of “we” not a world of “us and them” because this leads to discrimination and violence. He promotes the idea that Jesus lived on the margins and catered to a community of nobodies. And to verify this, we need not look farther than the scriptures. After all, the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew 5:3-10 shows Jesus stating that, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.”

Fr. Anthony expounded that heterogeneity in the community is good and that there is a dignity of difference; we are to glorify God in our identity and our relationships. We create this “Jesus Society” by building up the community, building up the kingdom.

Fr. Anthony’s words… and Jesus’ words remind me that we are all God’s children, and all members of the same unified Body of Christ. Therefore there must be room in heaven for those marginalized by society. There must be room even for those of us who are God’s “defects”.