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“Ask a Priest: Should I Have Spoken Up About a Gay Relationship?”
Q: At my tennis club there are benches by the clubhouse where we often sit around and talk to one another. One of the members is an openly gay man who lives with another man. He is friendly with everyone. We are acquaintances and sometimes chat. One day he was talking about how happy he was to be retiring soon so that he could spend more time with his partner. I just smiled and said nothing. I know homosexual sex is wrong, but I didn’t speak up because I was afraid. I was worried about starting an argument and being called someone full of hate. I also doubt anything I say would change this guy’s behavior. But maybe that is a sign that I do not trust God? Did I commit a sin by not saying anything? Should I have said something? We aren’t really friends. I have nothing against this guy. He’s actually very pleasant the few times I see him. – N.A.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s hard to say whether your silence in this case was sinful. Perhaps it was more of an imperfection. This kind of situation usually requires a bit of prudence.
We aren’t obliged to go around lecturing everyone on the wrong we perceive in their life.
And even when we do speak up, we should try to do it in the right moment and the right place. Ideally, we want to share our Christian views in a way that is perceived as loving.
If you barely know this person, it might not have been the moment to call him out about his lifestyle. Caught off guard, he might have taken great offense and dug in his heels. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:6.
On the other hand, the fact that this acquaintance freely spoke about his homosexual relationship might indicate that he has perceived nothing in you that would be opposed to that lifestyle.
So this leads to other questions: How much do you share your faith? How often do you bring up spiritual themes in your conversations? Do you wear anything that shows your Catholic faith?
While you don’t have to be in “lecture mode” all the time, there are ways to telegraph your religious outlook.
For instance, you might sprinkle your conversations with phrases like “Thanks be to God, I remembered to do this the other day …” or “I had this inspiration this morning from the Holy Spirit to …” or “I heard a homily last Sunday that got me thinking about …”
That kind of thing can send out signals without intimidating people. It lets them know where you are coming from.
These signals might dissuade others from sharing details of their wayward lifestyles with you. But, on the other hand, it might lead to deeper conversations.
This might be a strategy worth considering. And remember to pray for your tennis club acquaintance.
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