Wash Your Hands

A common enough refrain. Most of the time, really good advice. Today, I’m wondering what it’s supposed to mean.

Being a Catholic who chose a lesbian couple as her godmothers (as they are two of my central spiritual models and friends), full inclusivity is supremely important. This morning my heart was wrenched to read this article, describing how Cardinal Dolan of New York used the NYPD to block silent LGBT/Allies from Mass.

Their vigil was motivated by Cardinal Dolan’s somewhat confusing statement entitled, “All Are Welcome!” – during which he seems to welcome no one.

The Cardinal opaquely draws some form of connection between his mother’s mandate to wash his hands before dinner and humanity’s ability to approach God. While I am with him in a desire to create an honest encounter with the divine, which does include respect for space and ritual, I refuse to accept his next leap: equating “same-sex attraction” with abortion, unfair labor practices, and alcoholism.

Being gay is not an action. It is not a sin. It is a person’s created self. And if you do not welcome created selves, then you are not saying “all welcome.” In fact, just the opposite.

As one organizer put it, he was being told, in no uncertain terms, that he was meant to be “spiritually homeless.” That to enter a church he considered home would mean his arrest for felony trespassing. We’re not talking about hundreds here – it was a group of around 10 silent people, who wanted to hold a respectful vigil, not a knock-down-drag-out-Stonewall Riot.

This type of rhetoric makes me so angry. It is selective biblical literalism in a Church that openly treats the rest of the Bible as metaphor. It is using the Bible as a shield so as not to have difficult conversations and face your own homophobia. It is downright bad theology. It does nothing to further welcome anyone. It pushes us all away.

If their hands are dirty, I guess mine are too. I like it that way. I’ve always found God more in the messy dirt anyways.

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