The Teaching on Homosexuality in a Nutshell
Hold Fast to the Entire Deposit of Faith.
If one is a Christian who is serious about
responding to God's call to holiness, one must take seriously the Apostle's injunction to hold fast to the whole deposit of
faith. The deposit of faith includes the teaching of the Church on sexual morality, which simply put asks chastity of all
humans (yes, there is even a chastity appropriate for married couples) and commands us either to marry or abstain, as George
Herbert so tersely put it. While chastity is a duty that we owe to our Creator, Redeemer and Lord, it is at the same time a
source of immense grace and blessing and, especially for those who experience same sex attraction, nothing other than the
path to holiness in this life and the unspeakable joys of the Beatific Vision in the next.
Love all Humans.
While detesting and avoiding sin, the Christian must seriously endeavor to love all persons
regardless of their personal characteristics or failings. We can and must speak out against wrong ideas and actions, but we
should not target persons as such and should leave judgment to God. Many who rightly decry homosexual activity and the ideology of
practicing and promoting homosexualists need to be careful about their language and not vilify persons. Moreover,
those with same sex attraction can feel dignity in the unique gifts of their entire human personality and need not descend to
either a narrow "pride" based solely on one's sex drive or a debilitating self-hatred. Humans are not simply walking
The Pure Doctrine on Homosexuality.
The Catholic teaching on homosexuality specifically, as reflected in Sections 2357, 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, has four basic
- Activity Sinful - Homosexual activity is intrinsically sinful and disordered.
- Condition Disordered - The inclination to commit such sin, while not a sin itself, is an objective disorder.
- Person Deserving of Compassion - The minority of people (not insignificant in number) who have a deep seated sexual attraction to persons of their own sex are children of God who deserve respect, compassion and sensitivity from others.
- Call to Chastity - Those with this disorder are called to chastity, which may include and benefit from the development of disinterested friendships.
The Teaching Based in Scripture and Tradition
Scripture and Tradition Condemn Homosexual Acts.
The moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are
sinful and disordered is based on:
The Bible condemns homosexual activity explicitly and harshly in both
the Old Testament and the New Testament. While modern theologians and Biblical scholars try to render these condemnations
practically meaningless, the plain sense of the inspired text remains and cries out in words transcending cultural contexts
the moral (and not just ceremonial or dietary) injunction that "thou shalt not lie with man as with woman".
- The Bible
Sacred Tradition handed down from the apostles as reflected in the unanimous consent of the
the Church and the unchanging magisterium of the Church in the two thousand years of its existence on earth.
- Philosophical reflections on the natural law.
Condemnations Always Interpreted as Applying to All Such Acts.
In addition to the plain sense of Scripture,
the early Church fathers and the Church's magisterium continuously interpreted the Biblical condemnations as applying to all
homosexual acts, not simply to such acts in the context of temple prostitution or among those who do not have a high degree
of same sex attraction, as many modern theologians and Biblical scholars argue. The fact that the Church, who Catholics
believe is guided by the Holy Spirit in her interpretation of faith and morals, consistently so interpreted the Biblical
prohibitions suggests that the narrow interpretations put forth by revisionist theologians are erroneous or possibly even
self serving justifications for sinful activity. Moreover, Catholics must give the assent of faith to all teachings of the
deposit of faith - not just dogmas infallibly defined by a pope or an ecumenical council or found in the Nicene Creed. If
something has been always and everywhere taught within the Church, i.e., is part of the ordinary and universal
magisterium, then it is part of Sacred Tradition and must be given the assent of faith. There is no question that the
sinfulness of all homosexual acts has always and everywhere been held to be sinful by the Church's authentic magisterium.
Supposed "Modern" Knowledge Questionable.
Furthermore, the notion often put forth nowadays that the apostles
and the Church fathers did not know "what we know today" about homosexuality, i.e., that they did not realize that same sex
attraction was deep seated in some people, just does not ring true. It is inconceivable that none of the apostles and
fathers knew either from the experience of acquaintances or perhaps in some cases from their own experience that same sex
attraction can be deep seated. Moreover, the Church has had two thousand years of practical experience of spiritual direction
and surely would have obtained during that period the wisdom that homosexual attraction can be deep seated in the dubious
case that such wisdom was not there before. And in any event, the prohibition in the Bible is a prohibition on activity:
since behavior is something that can be chosen or not regardless of the degree of same sex attraction (although sometimes of
course it can be difficult without the help of grace to resist temptation), then it is difficult to see why our supposed
"modern knowledge", even if it really is new, should change God's decrees.
Jesus Loved Purity of Heart - Chastity is a "Core" Teaching of Christianity.
Most tellingly to my mind, the
Bible shows that Our Lord put purity of heart and the avoidance of even lustful thoughts at the center of his teaching. I
have a hard time reconciling this concern of our Savior for chastity with the promiscuity that I see common in the "gay"
lifestyle today. Even sexual acts within a homosexual "union" seem impure to my mind, since the unitive act is not open to
life and the element of lust would seem inevitably to be predominant. I am therefore skeptical of efforts to justify this
lifestyle within a Christian context. The teachings on sexual morality of the Church, far from being optional extras that are
not part of the "core" of Christian doctrine, as some modern Anglican divines would have it, belong to the very essence of
Jesus' message of purity and selfless love for God and neighbor. Changing this teaching would be taking away a significant if
not crucial part of Christian teaching, and might even be deemed the creation of a new religion. Christianity, including its
call for sexual purity, is a radical contradiction to the values of the world. One can certainly choose to believe in the
values of the world, but such are not authentic Christianity and it is misleading so to label them.
The True Church Cannot Change Teaching.
The Church is based on the faith revealed to the apostles and known to
us from Scripture and Tradition as interpreted and expounded by the Church's magisterium down the ages. Since this body of
teaching on faith and morals cannot change, it is disloyal to insist that the Church must change its teaching to suit one's
personal preferences. Of course doctrine can develop over time, but authentic development, as Cardinal Newman explained, must
occur in an organic way. The detailed implications and applications to specific circumstances of existing doctrinal
principles can become clearer and more refined over the centuries, but doctrine cannot be reversed. Bending the moral rules
on homosexual acts, even if only in some circumstances, would constitute a reversal of long and clearly expressed moral
Legitimate Development of Doctrine Has Occurred.
Indeed, legitimate development of doctrine relating to
homosexuality does seem to have taken place. For instance, I would argue that the greater emphasis now placed on treating
those with same sex attraction with love and compassion, as evidenced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, reflects a more
nuanced treatment than the mere condemnations of the activity that might have characterized previous pronouncements on the
topic over the centuries. This development would seem to be a logical result of analysis about how the important teachings on
charity and the dignity of the human person relate to the condemnation of homosexual acts as sinful and disordered. The
greater sensitivity to the personhood of those with same sex attraction does not in any way reverse or contradict the settled
teaching on the sinfulness of such acts or the disorder of the inclination.
May my prayers
rise up like
incense to Thee,
oh Father of