A few months ago, I went to a Rosary event at a parish in my city. It was a gorgeous day out, a farmer’s market down the street, and a small gathering of people in the square of the parish praying the Rosary for the Nation. It was a really beautiful experience and I kept thinking what a great witness it was. That is, until we reached a certain set of prayer intentions. One of the prayer intentions was “for an end to same sex marriage” and my heart broke. All I could think was that if someone who experienced same-sex attraction had come up to that Rosary in the square, it would only have taken 10 minutes for them to feel like they do not belong there.
Don’t take me the wrong way, I understand that the Church teaches that same sex marriage is wrong. I am not arguing that point right now. What I am arguing is that even if the Church does believe that homosexuality is wrong there are better ways to pray about it, especially in an event that is meant to evangelize.
The first and most important problem with this prayer is that to someone who is same-sex attracted it is a prayer that they will never get to experience the committed love that straight people do. (Again, not arguing whether it is right or wrong at this point, just arguing points of view.) Can you imagine being drawn to a beautiful prayer service, only to hear them pray that you could never get married? How would that make you feel? All I could think was what a punch in the gut that would be. What’s worse is that they already have to deal with so much from the world, people acting like they are worthless, and in that moment, I can only imagine it would feel like God hated them too.
I closed my eyes and continued the prayer in my head, “Lord Jesus, if same-sex marriage is wrong, then take away their desire for same-sex marriage. If it is not, than help the Church and the world to understand and embrace them. Lord, if you get rid of same-sex marriage, then comfort these people who will feel so lonely and abandoned.” I’m sure there would be LGBTQ people who would be displeased with the prayer because it allowed for the possibility of same sex marriage being wrong, and Catholics would object to it because it allowed for the possibility of it not being wrong, but my point is that right or wrong was not the point for me in that moment. The point was that if this prayer got answered, people would suffer. Whether it is right or wrong, their hearts would be broken, at least for a time, and we were praying for that break as if we did not care about the people who would feel it at all.
We need to remember compassion when we pray for intentions like these. We need to remember that there are people who genuinely do not believe they are doing something wrong and yet will feel shunned by this kind of prayer. I am not saying that the prayer I prayed is quite the right way to say it, because it is just what came into mind at the moment. I do think, though, that if Catholics are going to pray for an end to same sex marriage, then we have to pray for healing for all of the people that would hurt. In the same way, whenever we pray for something that may hurt other people in some way, even if we believe it is for their greater good, we must also pray for protection and/or healing for them.
To be honest, I even do this when I pray for snow days now. “Jesus, I would love a snow day today, but please protect everyone and if I need to not have a snow day in order that people will be safe I accept that.” It’s cheesy, but true. 😉 (Yes, I pray for snow days, my husband works long days and I’m home alone with two toddlers, 8-0 ) On a more serious note, I also recommend this if you are praying for an end to abortion, because there are a lot of scared women out there who are desperate and feel like they do not have a choice, so if abortion is not an option, they are going to need some serious help from God and from us. I also pray this way when I am angry at someone and praying for resolution, I’ve been praying for whoever is working on my taxes for the last 10 months of trying to get my tax refund.
To put it all simply, if you are going to pray for something that may hurt others, pray for protection and healing for those people too. Ask God to comfort and help them if His will is to answer your prayer, and be there for them yourself. Most of all, please, if you are evangelizing to people, do not start out with condemning them ten minutes in, there are some teachings of the Church that are really, really hard to understand, and it takes a long time to appreciate or even accept them, but compassion and love are the most important things to know about our God, and that is how we should start the conversation, with His love, and ours because of Him.