The most powerful religious leader in the world has voiced acceptance for homosexuals. While this is a long way from actual policy change, Pope Francis reflects the kind of self-awareness and love I strive for in my own family.

Pope Francis, aboard an overseas flight to Rome, shocked reporters when he responded to their questions regarding gay (celibate) clerics with the words: "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" He then added: "You can't marginalize these people."

Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?

Though he maintained the church's position of homosexuality as a "sin," his words mark a major shift in approach and attitude. His potential openness to gay priests (if they were celibate like all priests) signals a new level of acceptance. It's small, but it's something.

Just the words "Who am I to judge?" reflect a welcome change, in my mind. As far as I can tell, most religions and their leaders scream the opposite from their pulpits: "Who am I to not judge?"

Or, "I use my religion as the justification for my condemnation of others."

And this makes no sense to me.

If God exists, and he is all powerful and all knowing, and we are all his children, why would he make some children "defective" or "inherently evil?" Oh, what? "Homosexuality is a choice?" Oh really. Is that so? When did you choose to become straight?

Furthermore, even if homosexuality were a choice, who cares? Who exactly is hurt by people of the same sex loving each other, or not loving each other at all and having sex, just like straight people do?

What exactly is harmed, other than your idea of what marriage, life and relationships should look like?

Bible

And seriously, are you really basing this philosophy on the Bible? Dude. The Bible also says you can sell your daughter for goats, so please, save me from that nonsense. You can't pick and choose which parts to believe and which parts to conveniently dismiss. As the "infallible word of God," it's either a reliable source or it isn't.

You know I've tried quite a few churches over the years, and the only ones I've outright rejected are the ones that are against homosexuality or women in positions of power.

Why?

Because I won't subject my kids to that crap. I won't let my girls grow up thinking that men are the ones with the ultimate authority and their job is to accept that authority with a bow and a smile. I won't let my kids grow up thinking there's something wrong with them or anybody else because they're homosexual. And if they're straight, I won't reinforce society's heteronormativity by sending them to a church every week touting the "evilness" of homosexuality and superiority of straight people.

Dangerous opinions

The problem with these ideas is that they result in civil inequalities. These aren't just benign opinions. These are deeply-rooted philosophies that manifest in laws and civil behaviors. These "opinions" have material consequences for real live people, born onto this planet just like me, hoping to live a full and pleasant life. So as a parent, I need to be really, really careful about what kinds of "opinions" my kids are receiving on a weekly basis.

My kids aren't going to hear my words — they're going to watch my feet. And if my feet are moving toward a teaching of intolerance and bigotry, that will resonate with them more fully than my mouth ever will.

I could take my kids to a church that wasn't fully accepting of the LGBT community (or anybody else), but I'd be spending a good deal of time explaining "Well, that's not actually what we believe," or "We don't feel that way in our family," but as we all know, actions are louder than words. Excuse the cliché, but it's true: My kids aren't going to hear my words — they're going to watch my feet. And if my feet are moving toward a teaching of intolerance and bigotry, that will resonate with them more fully than my mouth ever will.

And so I, for one, am grateful for Pope Francis's move toward acceptance. It's been a long time coming, and though I won't be running out to join the Catholic Church, it gives me hope that people are starting to expand their understanding of Jesus's teaching: "Love one another."

There are no qualifications on that statement. It's not "love one another unless they're homosexual, in which case you should reject them, call them inherently defective and demand they not live true to themselves."

If your love is conditional or selective, it is not love.

And yeah, I've heard people say "Love the sinner, hate the sin," but there isn't a bigger pile of B.S. in the world. If your "hate the sin" philosophy harms the "sinner," the person you are apparently loving, then you are not loving them at all. If your "love" forces a person to deny who they are, alter themselves, pretend and lie and hide, then your love becomes an instrument of hate and destruction. If your love is conditional or selective, it is not love.

It is something else.

And that's the message I want my kids to know and live for the rest of their lives: Love, even if you don't understand.

Because really, who are we to judge?

More on civil liberties

Russia's war on homosexuals
How white people will ignore Obama's speech on Zimmerman
The danger in "nurse discreetly"

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