Narrative Theology: The Value of LGBT Lives

Bondings 2.0 reported yesterday on a number  of LGBT  Catholics, and Catholic family members of LGBT people, who will be attending the September World Meeting of Families. Included in the report was a link to an Equally Blessed blogsite, at which these people share their stories.  One of their number, Debbie, writes “I ordered an official World Meeting of Families sweatshirt, and then colored the the logo in rainbow.  It looks great.”

Rainbow WMF

These stories, and all our stories, are immensely valuable, in the continuing development of both moral and pastoral theology as it affects LGBT Catholics.

One sign of just how important these stories are, is graphically illustrated in the texts of the papers delivered to the recent Rome study day of leading bishops and theologians from Germany, France and Switzerland, in preparation for the 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family in the Contemporary World*.  Each of the three sessions dealt with a different theme, with two eminent academic theologians delivering papers for each. The theme for the morning session was a natural, obvious one for any religious seminar –  biblical theology on the subject.  The second session moved onto an what should be an obvious focus for any discussion of marriage and family, but is too often overlooked by Catholic moralists – the theology of love, under the heading “Sexuality as an Expression of Love”.

The final session covered what for many people will be a new concept, but which should be of immense importance for LGBT Catholics –  “Narrative Theology”.  Just why this is important, is shown in the title of one paper, “The Gift of One’s Own Life – Reflections on a Theology of Biography”, by Professor Eva-Maria Faber.  (The accompanying paper in this session by the Jesuit Professor Alain Thomasett was “Taking into Account the History and the Biographical Developments in Ethics and in the Pastoral Care of the Family” – a title which is academic, dry, and less immediately appealing – but which accurately presents the point: Our LGBT lives clearly have value in themselves – but taking our stories into account contributes directly to the continuing development of both formal theology and better pastoral practice).

The gay Catholic writer Dugan McGinley subtitled his book, “Acts of Faith, Acts of Love” on the stories of gay Catholics, Gay Catholic Autobiographies as Sacred Texts”.  The close attention paid to this field of narrative theology by the Swiss, German and French bishops in preparation for the synod shows that his description of these stories as “sacred texts” is not remotely far fetched. The same applies to the stories told at the Equally Blessed World Meeting of Families blog, and which will be shared at the September gathering.

We have already seen that the Protestant churches have moved much further along the road to full lgbt inclusion in church than the Catholics. One reason for that, is that the structure of their churches, and their married churches, means that their practice is much more directly influenced by paying attention to real lives of their people. With its strongly hierarchical structure and celibate clergy, it will take much longer for the Catholic Church – but for us too, telling our stories, wherever we can, will eventually similarly contribute to greater lgbt inclusion.

The report at Bondings 2.0 describes just how they will be contributing, even though the organizers refused any formal representation of LGBT groups:

The pilgrims will participate in the educational and prayer activities of the WMF, and they plan to share their stories with other participants and with the Church officials who will be in attendance.  In this way, they hope to make sure that LGBT families’ lives are not forgotten in these discussions.

You can be a part of this program by supporting the pilgrims with prayer and with financial support.  To make a donation, please click here.

Please support them. Less directly, you too will be contributing to sounder theology and pastoral practice for LGBT Catholics.

* There is much, much more important material in these texts. However, they have been published only in  German, French and Italian. No complete English text is yet available. 


7 thoughts on “Narrative Theology: The Value of LGBT Lives”

  1. There is great sacred power in telling our stories, dialog, and seeing the presence of God in people’s lives.

    God bless

    1. Thanks, Chris – you’re right. What interests me particularly, beyond the narrative power that stories offer to the rest of us, is that theologians are starting to recognise their value as empirical source material for theological reflection.

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