The courage of coming out
I have found a new way to finance my ministry. All I have to do is to “come out”. Sure, those who support this ministry might be shocked and my wife’s life might be ruined (the woman whom I pledged my love to till death do us part almost 5 years ago), but I am sure that after a couple of years, I could get a fairly decent book deal and find numerous sympathizers. I could then take the money and finance whatever I want to do. Some in the media would even call me “courageous and inspiring.”
I’ve debated within myself whether I should write this post. For those of you who watch the news, you probably know by now that I am referring to the ex-New Jersey governor James McGreevey who came out of the closet two years ago in order to save himself from charges of political corruption. At the risk of sounding too judgmental, something I try to avoid in my writing, let me first say that I think it is admirable that McGreevey, a self-proclaimed Catholic, voluntarily recused Himself from receiving communion in light of his pro-choice views, saving his archdiocese from political embarrasment. I think that shows a bit of integrity.
Having said that, I am concerned about the near-heroic welcome he has received in the media for his decision to come out of the closet. Never mind the fact that he was unfaithful in his marriage, his “coming out” is a courageous act in the minds of many. Why is this? Because, as I’ve said in other posts, the new American religion is “to thine own self be true.” Self-autonomy has trumped other time-honored virtues such as fidelity and self-sacrifice in the new American religion. Think of the film The Hours that came out a few years ago,where the art of leaving one’s spouse and children is virtually portrayed as a saintly act. My question is “since when has selfishness become a virtue?”
I don’t think that Christians should have a haughty and judgmental attitude towards homosexuals. I am a firm believer in “love the sinner, hate the sin.” If Jesus were around today, I think he probably would be found in gay bars extending his hand of friendship while lovingly and gently calling them to repentance, much to the chagrin of millions of Christians in the “moral majority”. This is why I was so embarrassed by the reaction of certain fundamentalist pastors in this country who told their congregation not to see the film End of the Spear simply because the filmakers chose to cast an openly gay actor in the leading role. I see nothing of the spirit of Jesus in these misguided shephards. Jesus befriended sinners and so should we.
Having said that, I think that all of society, not just Christians, should question the new American religion of self autonomy. If taken to its logical conclusion, virtually all decisions become moral decisions, no matter who they hurt, as long as one is true to one’s self. I think this is a dangerous philosophy that will bring much harm to innocent people if left unchecked. One of the chief characteristics of our humanity is the ability of moral reflection. Morality should be grounded not only in what is good for ourselves, but also in what is good for others.