It is only recently that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality has been difficult for many people, especially teens and young adults to accept. The fact that proponents of same sex marriage are framing the argument in terms of civil rights has made the Church’s position contentious. Our insistence that we are not bigots does not impress those who see homosexuality as morally neutral and a civil right.
Since, however, homosexual acts, go against the natural moral law and against right reason, the Church does not accept that there is a civil right to homosexual marriage.
Yesterday, I presented the foundational reason for the Church’s teachings that go against our culture: The Church does not have the authority from God to change what has always and everywhere been taught. It is Christ who reveals to us what is true.
Before I present the Theological arguments for the Church’s position on homosexuality I want to be clear on the Church’s treatment of people with homosexual inclinations.
First it is important to understand that the Church does not exclude homosexuals. The Church recognizes that homosexual inclinations are not chosen by individuals. It is not a sin to have same sex attractions. It is only homosexual acts which constitute grave sin. Homosexuals are to be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2358). Homosexuals are to be treated with dignity, and “unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC#2358).
Further, the Church understands that the call to chastity, which for all unmarried persons includes celibacy, is a very hard cross for homosexuals to carry. All Christians are called to carry their Cross—their trials and sufferings—and follow Christ.
The Theological Argument
In Genesis there are two accounts of Creation. In the first creation story we learn that God created man and woman in his image and likeness. This means that human beings have a unique relationship with God that the other creatures do not.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and multiply….” (Gn 1:27-28).
Man and women are created with equal dignity; but they each have different roles. They are not interchangeable. God, did however, make them complementary.
Both sexes are necessary to God’s plan for human beings. In the Pastoral letter “Marriage Love and life in the Divine Plan, the US Bishops state the following:
“Having created Adam, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gn 2:18). So God creates a helpmate who is suitable for him and matches him. “Helpmate” (ezer) is a word reserved in the Bible not for inferiors but most often for God himself, who is Israel’s “helper.” Indeed, after God creates all of the animals and brings them to Adam to name, it becomes clear that none of them is “the suitable partner for the man” (Gn 2:20).
Then God puts Adam under a deep sleep and, using one of his ribs, builds up a woman for him as a suitable partner or helpmate. When he sees the woman, Adam cries out in wondrous joy:
This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;This one shall be called “woman” [ishah], for out of “her man” [ish] this one has been taken. “(Gn 2:23) (page 9)
The Church has always understood that man and women were made for each other. In marriage they are to become one body (Gn. 2:24). The Bishops explain that man and woman are two different ways of being human persons. In marriage they become a community of two persons.
It is also important to note that Christ, by quoting from the two creation accounts of man and woman, raised marriage to a Sacrament. ( Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9)
God gave marriage to one man and one woman. He told them to “be fruitful and multiply”. One of the purposes of marriage is for the couple to cooperate with God in creation by being open to life. It is only a man and woman who, through their sexual union, have the ability to procreate.
Homosexual sexual unions are inherently sterile. “Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Person, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)
Perhaps one way to understand this, is to consider the nature of God. God has many attributes, he is eternal, almighty, just, merciful, for example. But God is, most of all, love. That is why, although He is one, he is a trinity of three persons. God is in himself a family. God created us out of love. God does not need us; he is self sufficient.
God’s love is overflowing. So much so that God the Son, true God and true man, emptied himself on the cross out of perfect love for us.
We are called to love as God loves. God’s love is life giving. This means that we are called to be open to life in marriage. Couples who use artificial contraception make sex a sterile act. This is also a grave sin.
This is hard for many people outside and (sadly) inside the Church to understand. For at least the last forty years contraception has been accepted. Being open to the gift of children is no longer seen as essential to the marriage state. In addition sex is no longer understood as a sacred gift given exclusively, by God, to a man and woman who are in a lifelong permanent marriage. Sex is now seen as a pleasurable activity that can be enjoyed outside of marriage.
It is not surprising, then that homosexual acts, are now considered okay in our culture. My husband and I have been asked, what would we do if one of our children or grandchildren had homosexual inclinations and acted on them.
We would love them. Unconditionally. Completely. But Unconditional love does not mean unconditional approval. Love is unconditional when you love in spite of actions or beliefs that you disagree with.
When our children were dating their now spouses, they would come to visit us with their significant other. They knew that they would have to sleep in separate rooms. That is how we will handle it when our grandchildren come of age (the oldest is 7). Even if their partner is of the same sex.
Here is a video which explains the Church’s teaching: