IN THIS HOME, WE BELIEVE

The village president, Sheena Collum, was not elected to inject herself or speak for all of us in national political issues. This would be true even if every South Orange resident agreed with the position she is taking today and supported the symbolic act she is choosing to express as president, not as a private citizen. She is supposed to represent all residents, no matter their political or religious stripe, and by this action she is overstepping her bounds and not representing all the people.

A transgender soldier who dies serving his or her country is as much a hero as a heterosexual soldier who is killed in action. Moreover, all persons, however they identify themselves sexually, have a God-given dignity that comes from their Creator. That is not at issue.

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There are clergy and rabbis attending this flag-raising. To them we proclaim from the depths of our faith tradition -- Roman Catholic -- that God is love. It is not just one of His attributes, it is who God is. That being the case, love cannot be anything we humans want it to be, or simply what we feel. Love is a choice, love is an act of the will and, ultimately, we believe, the "yes" to a loving Creator. We can never accept the popular phrase that “Love is love,” that it is anything we want it to be, we cannot water down the true meaning of love to suit us.

God as Creator and all-loving does not give us life in such a way that He traps anyone inside a body that is not the real us or that does not conform to our true being. God made male and female to be fruitful and multiply and to live a life of loving complementarity and interdependence.

Coming to know how much God loves us and desires us to love Him in return, that He did not have to create us and did so only out of love, and that He is our ultimate good and destiny, the happiness we most deeply want, matters for each of us in helping find our true identity, where we came from and our true destiny, heavenly happiness with God. If our happiness matters, then eternal life matters, so does knowing that all humans are redeemable, so does recognizing that the womb is where we start. The lives we live and how we live them are important and each of us must choose how the story of our lives will turn out. We are accountable, which means we are given the freedom to choose, to say yes or no to God’s offer of a trusting, loving abiding in Him and His plan for us. We are given that freedom, we are born with it, because God will not force us to say yes to Him, for then it would not be a loving relationship, a loving relationship that will culminate in our eternal happiness with God, which is what He most wants for each of us, the only creatures He made in His image, that is, solely out of love.

Science is based on empirical proofs. It is pseudo-science to say that something must be so -- that there is a gay gene, for instance -- when science has not proved that as yet. We believe that science and faith are both real and that there cannot be two alternative truths, one scientific and another faith-based. This is not to say that until science proves it, faith cannot profess belief in God. After all, if the only truths are those of science, then no one can believe love exists, since that is not quantifiable, or that poetry and music and beauty count for anything. If God is greater than us, it goes without saying that we cannot “discover” Him.

That does not mean we cannot know Him if He chooses to reveal Himself and His loving plan for us. Another, more basic way to know God is the same way that you and I can recognize a great work of art without being able to identify its author. Would Michelangelo’s David be any less identifiable as the produced by an art master if no one knew who carved it? In a similar way, it is not irrational to conclude that the world and all that is in it, our very existence, and the existence of our vast universe must have been produced by someone with far greater gifts than we can ever imagine.

In a social and political climate that leaves little room for dialogue, a time in which many insist they have the whole truth and that it is therefore right to condemn those who disagree; that the end justifies the means, even if it means violence and hatred, and that people must choose to take one side or another or be demonized, we say, “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS.” We welcome dialogue while at the same time realizing that at this time in our nation’s history there seems to be little common ground that supplies the basis for such dialogue.