Homosexuality

The most authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (# 2357 and # 2358). This teaching, representing all the bishops of the universal church, is normative for and takes precedence over all other documents from Vatican offices, national conferences of bishops and individual bishops.

The Catechism makes the following points:

  • Homosexuality refers to men and women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards the same sex.
  • Based upon Sacred Scripture, homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity.
  • Homosexuality has taken various historical and cultural forms and its cause remains largely unexplained.
  • Homosexual people must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
  • All unjust discrimination toward them should be avoided.
  • The homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered."

(Another document dealing with homosexuality in the social and cultural context of the US is the 1997 pastoral statement, Always Our Children, from a committee of the U. S. Catholic bishops. This document has been cited by various homosexuals, but it is not an official document and has not been approved by the USCCB.)

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are always violations of divine and natural law.

Homosexual desires are not in themselves sinful. People are subject to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little direct control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting out the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. People tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.

Sacred Scripture: In the Old Testament, Genesis 19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by Lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape, and the town is destroyed by fire "because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord" (Gen. 19:13).

Also in the book of Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

In the New Testament, Romans 1, Paul attributes the homosexual desires of some to a refusal to acknowledge and worship God. He says, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them" (Rom. 1:26–28, 32).

Elsewhere Paul again warns that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that will deprive one of heaven: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV).

Natural Law:

People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal. The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural.

Many homosexuals argue that they have not chosen their condition, but that they were born that way, making homosexual behavior natural for them. Even if there is a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality (there have been no studies that confirm this), the behavior remains unnatural because homosexuality is still not part of the natural design of humanity. It does not make homosexual behavior acceptable; other behaviors are not rendered acceptable simply because there may be a genetic predisposition toward them. For example, scientific studies suggest some people are born with a hereditary disposition to alcoholism, but no one would argue someone ought to fulfill these inborn urges by becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism is not an acceptable "lifestyle" any more than homosexuality is an acceptable "lifestyle".

Homosexual Behavior Is Against Divine And Natural Law.

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" (CCC 2357– 2359).

Paul stated, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

Homosexuals who want to live chastely can contact Courage, a national, Church-approved support group for help in deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle. Courage, Church of St. John the Baptist, 210 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001 (212) 268–1010 Web: http://couragerc.net

Jim Fritz

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