A great amount of attention these days is spent on so-called “gay marriage” and the homosexual lifestyle. This behavior is being celebrated by the mainstream media.
The Catholic Church opposes homosexual activity and will never endorse so-called “gay marriage,” because it is not marriage, in fact.
That said, in taking this stance, the Catholic Church is not condemning people who suffer from same-sex attraction. In fact, the Catholic Church is calling such people to live in holiness, even if it means they do not shed their same-sex attraction.
A great video just came out on this topic on April 27th and it’s prompted me to write this. I include the video at the bottom of this post—it is definitely worth watching, no matter which side of the discussion you are on. It is about 30 minutes long.
I have compiled here five tips for improving dialogue between proponents of the gay lifestyle and those of us in the Catholic Church. Hopefully those on the advocacy side will better understand where we are coming from in opposition. As well, I hope this will help Catholics to keep things in perspective and to not get out of line, one way or the other, in discussing this issue.
1. HAVING SAME-SEX ATTRACTION DOES NOT MAKE ANYONE UNHOLY, UNFIT FOR COMMUNION, OR EXCLUDE ANYONE FROM HEAVEN.
Same-sex attraction serves as a temptation to sin. Everyone gets tempted in all sorts of manners. If we resist any temptation, we grow in virtue. If we give in and perform the action we were tempted with, then we fall into sin.
So long as we do not yield to our temptations—or when we do, we confess them and receive absolution from a priest acting in Persona Christi—then we have not sinned.
If anyone is baptized Catholic, is in a state of sanctifying grace, and is in union with the Catholic Church’s teachings, then he is worthy to receive the Eucharist at Mass. Anyone includes those with same-sex attraction.
Anyone Catholic who dies in a state of sanctifying grace will go to heaven. Heaven is not automatically closed to people who struggle with certain temptations, including same-sex attraction.
2. IT IS WHEN SAME-SEX ATTRACTION IS ACTED UPON IN HOMOSEXUAL ACTS THAT A GRAVE SIN OCCURS.
The Catholic Church considers homosexual acts gravely sinful–not the attraction. The Catechism reads, “Homosexual acts [are] acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They 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” (2357).
Why would the Catholic Church label homosexual acts gravely sinful? Does the Church hate gays and want them to be miserable and lonely? No, not at all.
Our human nature causes us all to desire friendships, to be in community, and to feel loved. The Church is not saying those with same-sex attraction do not have a right to feel loved. Instead, they are encouraged to find intimacy in non-romantic, non-sexual relationships. In our day, intimacy is synonymous with sex, but this is a mistaken association. See the video at the bottom, where this point is made beautifully.
Which leads us to the next point.
3. WE NEED TO AGREE ON THE PURPOSE OF SEX.
“Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman,” reads Catechism 2360.
Sex is an act that is inherently ordered toward the creation of new life. Therefore, any sexual act not ordered toward procreation, including homosexual acts, are disordered and gravely immoral.
I know the standard objections:
(1) What about heterosexual couples who can’t have kids, or
(2) Not every time a heterosexual couple has sex does conception take place, or
(3) What about all the couple using birth control? They aren’t having babies either.
I intend to address these objections more thoroughly in later posts. I do not have the time or space to give them their due entirely here.
I will say, though, that the Church draws a distinction between sexual acts that are sterile by kind (by contraceptives, sterilization, homosexuality) and those that are sterile as a result of a variable like age or health. The former is sinful, the latter is not.
4. WE ARE ALL CALLED TO LIVE A LIFE OF CHASTITY—SAME-SEX ATTRACTED, OR STRAIGHT.
“All the baptized are called to chastity,” the Catechism tells us (2348). Thus, everyone in the Church is called to this virtue.
“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,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2359).
Practicing chastity. Practicing virtue. Gaining self-mastery. Praying. Receiving the Sacraments. The Catechism says this is the way to achieve “Christian perfection.” This all applies to anyone—especially for homosexual persons, as the Catechism states.
Okay, all Christians need to practice chastity, but what is it? Basically, it is the virtue of moderation of sexual appetites. In other words, it allows reason to direct one’s sexual desires in accordance with one’s state in life. Again, every single baptized Catholic should be practicing chastity—same-sex attracted or straight.
5. FINALLY, WE CAN AGREE THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS WELCOMING OF THOSE WITH SAME-SEX ATTRACTION.
The Catholic Church does not accept mistreatment of anyone, those with same-sex attraction included.
The Catechism states, “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (2358).
Catholicism is not incompatible with living with same-sex attraction. For proof of such, I suggest you look to these resources:
Spiritualfriendship.org is a collaborative blog of many bloggers, who have same-sex attraction, but follow the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality.
Letterstochristopher.wordpress.com is Daniel Mattson’s blog (he also goes by Nathaniel Jameson when writing). He was interviewed on Catholic Answers <
Universityideas.wordpress.com is a blog by Chris Damian, who also is Catholic, has same-sex attraction, and practices chastity.
My last example is the following video, released less than a week ago, where several people with same-sex attraction share their personal testimonies. They tell how they found true freedom, and found love inside the Catholic Church. It is well produced, and definitely worth watching, no matter who you are.
Did you watch the short film? I thought it was good, how about you?
Did you know the Church’s teaches on chastity and how it applies to those with same-sex attraction? Were you aware self-identified people with same-sex attraction follow the Catholic Church’s teaching in this regard?
So, do these tips help us move past finger pointing and name-calling, so that we can talk to each other, rather than at each other on this issue?