As I begin this extremely touchy and delicate subject, some preface is needed before we dive into it. While I agree with the teachings of the Church on this, it’s still an issue I wrestle with because of personal connections. I'm a person who has homosexual relatives and friends. I do not come from a perspective of "damn homosexuals!", unlike many misguided "Christians". I harbor no ill feelings towards those with homosexual attractions. I wish joy and happiness to those I care about, no matter their orientation. After all, Jesus came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Again, this blog is to present Catholicism’s teachings on different topics with some of my own reflections.
The issue of homosexuality has taken center stage in recent months in our world, primarily due to the results of bullying and also because of its prominence politically as states debate the issue of homosexual marriage. All the attention has Christians struggling with the issue as well, and the responses from various denominations has been varying. For example, the Episcopal Church allows same sex marriages, while others, like Catholicism, have remained firm in their position and will not waver.
The Church is quite staunch on this issue primarily because of its stance on marriage and sexuality in general. Thanks to Blessed John Paul II’s work on the Theology of the Body, teachings on sexuality within the context of the Church were clarified. My previous post on pro-life is an example of the clarity provided, and I will be referring back to it.
Homosexuality still remains a sin in the Church. However, the teachings of the Church through the Catechism provide clarification on some things. First, the Church admits, “[homosexuality’s] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained,” (CCC 2357). Second, the Church differentiates between homosexual attraction and homosexual acts. Much like heterosexual attraction, homosexual attraction in itself is not sinful. The Church teaches that this “constitutes for most of them a trial,” (CCC 2358). Sin enters either through lust or acting upon said attractions. Outside of marriage, this is sinful whether homosexual or heterosexual.
Why is it a sin though? It largely comes down to the Church’s definition of marriage, specifically procreation. Homosexual acts cannot create new life; it is impossible. This is also why the Church does not allow same sex marriage. Referring to Genesis, the Catechism teaches that homosexual acts are “contrary to natural law,” (CCC 2357). God created man and woman, and from an anatomical standpoint, they are complementary, like puzzle pieces that are meant to go together.
Look at Genesis 2. God creates Adam, and wants to create a “suitable partner” for him (2:18). God creates the animals, but they do not suffice. Note Adam’s response once God creates Eve from his rib in Gen. 2:23:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”
God made Adam a suitable partner, a woman! Immediately Adam recognizes this compatibility because of how she was made; there is no hesitation. Adam does not say, “Well, I suppose this will work.” No, instead he positively bursts out “YES!”
With all this said, how should homosexuals respond? Like all of us, they are called to chastity. The Catechism teaches that “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 2359). That’s a tough pill for many to swallow, as it basically says that homosexuals should not have any romantic relations. In this sense, their vocation becomes the same as a single person’s (this is where I still struggle).