My duties as secretary of the local park and recreation board require me to handle shelterhouse reservations for picnics during the summer months. For the past couple of nights, we have had unscheduled people camping in one of our shelters. Since that shelter was reserved for a family reunion, I had to approach them last evening to ask them to leave today. They understood, and we ended up having a nice conversation.
He was an evangelist, walking with his wife and 16 year-old son across America. They were originally from California and began their trek in Delaware several years ago. Along the way, they share the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen. They have a tent and carry their limited belongings on a couple of small carts they push down the road. They were very pleasant folks and I admire the faith and love for Christ they must have to undertake such a mission.
Today, a few members of our parish, including our parish priest, participated in a public square Rosary Rally for marriage and family held near a busy intersection in our town. The organizer posted a picture of the event on Facebook this evening, and I was pleased to see the Christian evangelist and his family praying with Catholics for a common cause. Behind the group in the photo was a large banner that said, “God’s marriage = one man and one woman.”
I wondered if my fellow parishioners knew the story of the three guests praying with them, so I posted the question. I was hoping they had conversed, perhaps being able to share our Catholic faith with them, something I was unable to do last evening. As of right now, I have not received a response from a parishioner who attended the rally, but I did get a response from one who did not.
If you are one of the smart folks who is not familiar with Facebook, know that my posting that question allowed everyone on my Facebook friends list to see the photo. The response I got (from someone I love dearly) called the banner “hateful” and “offensive”, and she seemed appalled that I would be a willing supporter of such an event. I explained as best I could that as Catholics, we have an obligation to defend the natural conjugal relationship of marriage as based on natural law. We do this out of love, not hate. We do not hate anyone.
Our texted conversation carried on for a while, and I think I was able to address her concerns to a limited degree. It did get me to thinking, however. Is the way we show support for God’s marriage sometimes counter productive? How do we sway opposing beliefs without causing further division? The Rosary may be a powerful prayer, but is praying it in the public square going to change someone’s mind or make them dig in even harder?
Passersby do not know you. You may be the most kind loving Christian person in the world, but if you have not had the opportunity to first gain someone’s respect to the point where they will listen to your message, you are not likely to convince them. They see the sign and assume you look down on gay people and want to impose your will upon them.
We need to first lead good holy Christian lives to open the ears of others. Perhaps it would be better to pray in public without the sign, or word the sign in a more charitable manner. Maybe it should say, “we love everyone, regardless of your sexual orientation, but natural conjugal marriage requires one man and one woman.”
I recently listened to Trent Horn’s audio CD, How to talkabout Same Sex Marriage, available from Lighthouse Catholic Media. It would be a good starting point for anyone needing help to understand some of the misconceptions held by many in our society today. Pray for marriage and family, but also pray for yourself to be an effective instrument in spreading the love of God.