Today, Manny Pacquiao dominates both traditional and social media, when he earned the ire of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender) community because of what he said relative to his stand on same-sex marriage.
Well, I salute MP for affirming his stand even if by doing-so, he will lose the votes of the LGBT community and more so for his honesty and humility in asking for public apology after realizing that he had hurt their feelings. I understand the hurt he may have unintentionally caused since as it is, the LGBT already felt that they are being discriminated hence, they are quite a sensitive lot. But in my heart, I know that MP did not mean ill of the people but just the act. Besides, in a country of many and varied dialects we use this kind of comparison. We hear jeepney drivers say: “ayan na naman ang mga buwaya”, or among best friends who became enemies “ahas” and even among the LGBT community, you can hear them say among themselves “hitad” with not so much a fuss. Added to that are the differences of meanings of the same phrase in the different regions or class group. What Ilocanos consider as vegetables, Tagalogs find as vulgar; what Cebuanos consider as crass terms/words, Ilonggos find as normal. Even how we pronounce may mean differently to different people. When a person from Luzon says “Bu-tu-an” instead of “But-wan” to refer to a place in Mindanao, it means differently to Visayans or Mindanaons who would think of the person’s sexual assets. My brother-in-the-seminary Joe Marie has aptly stated in his FB post. To quote him:
Filipino expressions can be confusing and, when used improperly, the outcome can be devastating. When we detest [emphasis is mine] someone we say “MAS MASAHOL PA SA HAYOP.” But when we admire someone we say “HAYOP ANG DATING.
In my thoughts though, I would say MP did not detest the LGBT community or anybody for that matter when he said it. It was said more as a comparison which we normally do, when we are lost for the exact words. Hence, we have Metaphors and the other figures of speech.
Let us look at this phrase “mas masahol pa sa hayop.” Going back to Biology, man is classified under the animal kingdom like the “hayop” in this instance. From birth we came with limitations. Animals go by their instinct – it is their limitation, and it is by this instinct that they follow the laws of nature. It is precisely the reason why they can’t go wrong in their choice of a mate. On the other hand, religion taught us that we are above all the animals because aside from our natural instincts, we were given by our Creator REASON (intelligence, wisdom and most of all – the FREE WILL, a gift to choose with full knowledge of our options whether good or evil). By natural and more important, the Divine design, our tendency would have led us to strive for a higher level. Even game apps are designed with progression in mind. But while we are limited, it is because of this free will that we decide for ourselves to go beyond our limitations. Unfortunately though, while natural laws go for progression, most of the time we tend to go against or regress from the laws and order of nature and the Divine design – the product of our rebellious selves. Considering, that we are above the rest in our class, i.e., the animal kingdom because of this gift of reason, still man tends to act and go even lower than the lowest creature in this same class, thus the phrase: “mas masahol pa sa hayop”.
Going back to the main subject that caused this uproar, i.e., MP’s stand on same-sex marriage, which affects the LGBT community. Does it really follow that when you talk about homosexuality, what follows is the issue of same-sex marriage? While they are two different issues, many will say they are related. The LGBT’s ire was not brought about by MP’s stand on the issue of “same-sex marriage” but on his use of words when he tried explaining his stand on the issue.
Many a times last year, I thought of writing about homosexuality but in writing this I am specifically referring to the homosexuals relative to lesbians and gays and not the whole lot of the LGBT community. What’s the difference? Homosexuality may be brought about by unnatural hormonal imbalance, although now most are due to surrounding influences. On the other hand, being a bi-sexual or a trans-gender is a preference that clearly demand reason and decision, in which case, free will is clearly at play. For some, the term “gay” is applied to both men and women but for clarity, I am referring to gays for men, and lesbians for women, or homosexuals to refer to both.
I have nothing against homosexuals. In fact, I have gay and lesbian friends and even relatives. Although it was not the case when I was growing up, since I also had biases brought about by the ignorance of youth.
As a person, homosexuals (at least those I know) are very considerate and responsible. My gay classmates from high school were very dependable and resourceful. They are also very creative. When you are in need, they are there and if it is out of their immediate capacity they look for other ways to help. Well, homosexuals [tend] to be attracted to the same sex. But again it may just be tendencies, and tendencies can be curbed; preferences can be changed. On introspection, it may not necessarily be true that they want to be with the person of the same sexuality, but rather they may be attracted to the strength of character or absence thereof that the other person exudes. In fact, we already heard about gay-lesbian wedding and it is accepted by the church. In one conference of the Couples for Christ (CFC) I’ve attended, I heard the sharing of a known homosexual, known because he was a celebrity. He had prayed for enlightenment and guidance. He surrendered himself to the Lord’s will and is now a happily married and a family man. And in an interview last year, he reiterated that he never regretted his decision and he was thankful to the Lord for the gift of his family. So like any tendencies, as creature of reason, we can curb them and channel the same tendencies to a better union.
Again our church leaders tell us to condemn the sin and not the sinner. We condemn active homosexuality, in the same way we condemn adultery and promiscuity because as Catholic Christians, we believe they are sins and like any other sin, cut us from the source of life. But does knowing people who are active homosexuals or those who flaunt their adulterous life as if it is proof of their manhood give us the right to judge? All of us are sinners; we are not saints although we strive to become saints, and one of the things we need to achieve sainthood is learning to love the sinner but at the same time condemning the sinful act. Many times in our lives we fall and succumb to sin – to the impurities sown by our enemy whether you are “straight” or not. We sin with our thoughts, our words and most with our actions; and in our judgment of others – we sin.
“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Yes, I said in my youth, I was biased with homosexuals. I never thought then that I can accept homosexuals in our family. But then again, we had a priest in our clan who tended to be feminine in his actions and voice but lived a pious life as a servant of the Lord. I had a cousin who was gay but was the family’s bread-winner. Both of them are remembered not because of their effeminacy but how they touched the people they come in contact with.
Did these experiences made me change my views of homosexuals? Yes, indeed, but on the issue of same-sex marriage as a right, from which all this talk sprung forth, I would still follow what my conscience say guided by the teachings of my church. Nowadays, “equal rights for all” is a common shout out and may be a platform of change for our politicians especially as we near our national elections. But the question in my mind, is it really a birthright or is just now becoming a “right” because society calls for it? Its legality is relative depending on the people passing the laws of the land and the pressures of society. When passed it will become legal, but is it morally right? When faced with this dilemma, I use this as my guiding principle: “if it does not follow the Divine and natural laws, then it can never be moral.“
So today, when asked “what if my daughter/niece is a lesbian or my son/nephew a gay, will I accept them?” The answer will be a definite “YES”. But “will I condone if they go into active homosexuality”, it will still be a big “NO”. I will have the compassion to understand them, but I will be praying deeply for their enlightenment and guidance that they may heed the call of single-blessedness instead; or praying that like my gay brother in CFC, they will have a family of their own – a happy and a Christ-centered family.
During this season of Lent, we are encouraged to abstain and fast or simply said: “curb your temporal desires so that you can commune with God”. As I reflect on this, I feel that homosexuals are very blessed. When they consider living their lives according to the laws of nature, they may realize that they are given by the Lord the opportunity to serve Him more, coming into union not with a person of the same sex but with Him through single-blessedness.
Tendencies can be curbed, preferences can be changed. This season of Lent, may we be enlightened to go for the Divine. May the Lord God bless us all!