Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
There were two stories the other day about gay men that caught my attention, one in the political world and one in the Catholic world. In different ways I believe these stories to be instructive about how we should treat actual gays in the actual world.
In the first story, Romney appointed last week Richard Grenell to be his foreign policy spokesman. On Tuesday he resigned. Grenell is gay. Grenell resigned saying "While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign."
The story being promoted by the media is that the religious right was up in arms over the appointment of a gay man in a major campaign role and that Romney's fear of the religious right eventually forced Grenell from the campaign.
As a card-carrying member of the religious right, I don't care at all that Mr. Grenell is gay. I do care whether he can do the job well.
In my business life, I have recruited and hired many people including gay people. In fact, there is an openly gay fellow, a man whom I consider a friend even though we disagree on many things, with whom I formerly worked and recruited into my company because he is darn good at his job. Darn good. And of course, gay people, as people, must be free of unjust discrimination and gay people have a right to employment just like anyone else.
All that said, they need to be effective at their jobs if they want to keep them just like anyone else. By all accounts, Mr. Grenell is a foreign policy whiz. Great. But, he is also a vocal advocate for gay-marriage and he has a history of writing some snarky and rude comments about people. I have no problem with Mr. Grenell being employed as a foreign policy spokesman. I do have a problem with a spokesman for a candidate who openly opposes the candidate on an extremely important policy such as the defense of marriage. For me, I think this ought to be disqualifying, whether he is gay or not gay. His rude comments just serve to make it that much more difficult to do his job as a campaign spokesman. If a gay man was fired from the Obama campaign for openly opposing Obamacare, we would not be having this discussion.
The other story is the reaction to a piece written by my colleague Mark Shea praising a deceased same-sex attracted Catholic man as a "saint." Mark wrote this about Perry Lorenzo.
All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith, and taught a huge number of people about it, both gay and straight, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. He was also one of the most learned people I have ever met and a profoundly humble man. He was, for many years, the director of education for the Seattle Opera. Had a brilliant knack for speaking the Catholic tradition to the cultured despisers of tradition here in Seattle.
Mark went on to say that he didn't know and didn't much care whether Mr. Lorenzo was chaste (Although Mark presumes that he is.)
Some of the negative reactions to Mark's piece bug me. Some people pointed out that the man in question lived with another man. How could Mark point out the holiness of a man who may have (may) have been actively gay? Scandal! I think some of this reaction is profoundly unfair. Why is it that we treat same sex attraction so much differently than other struggles? Sin is sin.
Would Mark have received the same reaction if he had written the same words about a man who did amazing things for and because of his faith but who also struggled with alcoholism? No, people would try to assume the best, praise what he did well, and hope that he died in friendship with the Lord. They wouldn't be filling up comboxes with reported bar sightings as everyone would find that extremely rude. But somehow if someone struggles with same-sex attraction it is ok to be rude?
We are all sinners struggling to make it home and requiring unearned forgiveness to get there. I am sure of this and of one other thing. Acknowledging your sinfulness while patting yourself on the back that at least you're not gay, is not the fast track to heaven.