On Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

“Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.” [1]

The media is constantly misinterpreting Pope Francis’s words, and the result is that many people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, may be confused about what he really meant. Many articles on the Internet claim that this quote shows that the Pope is going to change the Church’s traditional teaching on gay marriage, [2] but this is nothing but wishful thinking from those in support of gay rights. Nowhere is this quote does he say that gay marriage is morally correct, because that is simply not the Church’s teaching. He merely means that Christians should never condemn or be judgmental towards those who are homosexual, and even those who engage in homosexual activity, even if their actions aren’t morally correct. Does God condemn sinners in this world? Does God refuse to love them? Of course not! God loves even the worst sinner in hell. Here is another question: when we meet an atheist, should we judge them or do we help them see the error of their ways? Why should the same concept not apply to all other sins, including homosexual activity?

It should become self-evident that Pope Francis’s opinion is perfectly compatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. 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” (CCC 2358). The Church’s teachings are clear: those who suffer from same-sex attraction do not sin unless they act upon their desires, which are in and of themselves, morally wrong. Temptation itself is no sin, but giving into temptation or taking delight in it is a sin. [3] Same-sex attraction is, in fact, a cross that God allows some people to bear. In regards to a blind man, Jesus said that the man was born blind so that others may see God in his life. Similarly, we should try to see God in the lives of those who suffer from same-sex attraction, and we should not judge or condemn them. [4] Someone who suffers from same-sex attraction does commit sin, however, if they choose to act upon this desire. As the Catechism states: “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 2359).

Pope Francis is not going to change the Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and neither is that possible, since the teaching is a divine law and not a merely ecclesiastical or human one. [5] The official position of the Church remains unchanged: although homosexual desires, in and of themselves, are disordered, the temptation of being attracted to a person of the same sex is not a sin. Only when one gives into that temptation and engages in homosexual activity, is homosexuality a sin. And since homosexual activity is a grave moral wrong, we as Christians have a moral obligation to oppose the legalization of gay “marriage”, which will inevitably lead to a greater acceptance of homosexual activity. The Supreme Court may have ruled that gay “marriage” should be legal, but the opinion of government officials cannot overrule the opinion of the God of the Universe. Aside from religious reasons, there are also other reasons why homosexual “marriage” should not be legalized. Simply put, homosexual marriage should not be allowed because it is not a valid marriage, it is not open to procreation, and it can have a negative impact on children.

Gay “marriage” is simply not a true and valid marriage. A homosexual couple would never be allowed to get married in the Church because matrimony is a sacrament, and the Church cannot change the substance of a sacrament. A homosexual marriage can never be a valid sacramental marriage, just as baptizing someone with wine, using gingerbread for communion, or ordaining a woman to the priesthood are invalid. Outside of the Church, however, homosexual “marriage” is also invalid, because God created marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. God created men and women to be sexually compatible with each other, for the purposes of procreation (to “be fruitful and multiply”). Adam was a man, and Eve was a woman; God did not create two men, or two women. Although in the New Testament, Jesus never outright condemned homosexuality, He did re-affirm what was written in the Old Testament: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5).

When God created marriage, He intended for His people to “be fruitful and multiply”, and therefore sex is a means of procreation. However, because two people of the same sex cannot biologically and naturally have their own children, the legalization of gay “marriage” would be disrespectful to this sacred purpose of marriage. Sex simply cannot be seen as a mere act of pleasure and the sexual act should not be motivated by lust. “Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (CCC 2351). Since a “marriage” between two persons of the same sex is not a valid marriage, homosexual activity is obviously sinful because sexual activity should be within marriage only. Homosexual activity does not have any “procreative” and/or “unitive” purposes.

Finally, gay “marriage” is dangerous to people and society because of its harmful effects on children. A growing child needs both a father and mother. Studies show that children who grew up with only one parent are more likely to be suspended from school, have emotional problems, become delinquent, suffer from abuse, or take drugs. It is self-evident that children do best when they grow up in a family with both a mother and a father, in a low-conflict marriage. They live longer and healthier lives, for example, and are more likely to do well in school, graduate, and attend college. They are also less likely to live in poverty, get in trouble with the law, drink, or do drugs. Most importantly, they are likely to have a successful marriage and family life when they are older. [6] This is why, logically, the Catholic Church defends the dignity of marriage and the family.

In the case of homosexual “marriage,” the couple cannot have their own children, and so they must adopt if they want children. These children are denied proper growth and development because they will lack either a father or a mother. As Pope Francis says, “A marriage (made up of man and woman) is not the same as the union of two people of the same sex. To distinguish is not to discriminate but to respect differences… A father is not the same as a mother. We cannot teach future generations that preparing yourself for planning a family based on the stable relationship between a man and a woman is the same as living with a person of the same sex.” [7] In short, a homosexual “marriage” is not marriage and a family cannot be sustained when the parents are the same sex. A child cannot develop properly without both a mother and a father. There are certain things that only a father can teach his child, and certain things that only a mother can. No child should ever be denied proper development, both physically and mentally, because of their parents’ wrongdoings.

Although nowadays the Church emphasizes the importance of treating homosexual people with love, mercy, and compassion, the official teaching has never changed. The Supreme Court was clearly wrong when gay “marriage” was legalized, because is not a valid marriage, it is not open to procreation, and it can have a negative impact on children. Catholics should not remain silent but continue to proclaim the gospel to the world, showing people the error of many worldly ways and speaking the truth. And when we do that, we need to be careful to avoid judging and condemning others. [8] As the Catechism explains, being attracted to a member of the same sex is not a sin, even though the temptation is morally disordered in and of itself. One only sins when one acts upon those desires and/or seriously entertains thoughts of such an action. People who have same-sex attraction still have an equal chance at salvation as everybody else, and this condition is a cross that God allows some to carry. On His Cross, Jesus died for everyone, and paid the price for all sins past, present, and future. Anyone who repents will be forgiven.

Footnotes

[1] Spadaro, Antonio. “A Big Heart Open to God: An Interview with Pope Francis.” America Magazine, 30 Sept. 2017, http://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2013/09/30/big-heart-open-god-interview-pope-francis/.

[2] Here is an example: Hale, Christopher J. “The Pope Francis Statement That Changed the Church on LGBT Issues.” Time, Time, 28 July 2015, time.com/3975630/pope-francis-lgbt-issues/.

[3] It should be pointed out that even Jesus was tempted (see Matthew 4:1-11), but He never sinned.

[4] See John 9:1-34. Even after the blind man was healed, the Pharisees did not accept Jesus and did not believe that the miracle was from God. Continuing the analogy, if we refuse to believe that God permits some to suffer from same-sex attraction and that He can work through the lives of these people, then we are no better than the Pharisees. Condemning people with same-sex attraction is also similar to how the Pharisees judged the blind man who was healed: “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!”

[5] Ecclesiastical law is man-made, while divine law comes from God Himself. An example of an ecclesiastical law can be found canon 378.1 n.3 in the Code of Canon Law in the Catholic Church (1983). It states that a priest must be at least thirty-five years old in order to become a bishop. This law can be changed by the pope if he deems it appropriate; in fact, the age requirement for becoming a bishop was only 30 in the old 1917 Code. Ecclesiastical laws can not only be changed, they can also be dispensed in certain circumstances. Divine laws, however, come from God and cannot be changed. No church authority, even the pope, can change divine law. Therefore, it is not possible for the Church to change her teaching on homosexuality because God Himself declared that this kind of activity is morally wrong.

[6] More information can be found here: Sprigg, Peter. “New Study On Homosexual Parents Tops All Previous Research.” Family Research Council, http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/new-study-on-homosexual-parents-tops-all-previous-research/.

[7] “Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Where Does Pope Francis Stand on Same-Sex Marriage?” The Irish Catholic, irishcatholic.ie/article/same-sex-marriage-debate-5/.

[8] “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:25). While it is important to keep in mind that there is absolute truth and to make it clear that certain things are objectively wrong, it is not okay to condemn or act judgmental toward the people that one is trying to evangelize.

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One thought on “On Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

  1. Update: Homosexuality – that is – being attracted to a person of the same gender, in itself is not a mortal sin. As I said, Jesus died for those who suffer from same-sex attraction and repent. But to repent also means to not act upon those desires, and if one does and has *sufficient freedom and knowledge* before the act, then it is a mortal sin. And the Pope doesn’t support gay “marriage” – he is just saying that we shouldn’t condemn a person for having same-sex attraction. We have no right, as humans, to judge others like this. In short, I am referring to the legal aspect, that the US government allows same-sex couples to actually *legally* get married. Legal doesn’t mean moral (abortion is “legal” but not “moral”, for example, and just because according to the US Constitution a fetus isn’t legally a person doesn’t mean is has no soul). The government can choose to decide whether this “marriage” is “legally” marriage, but the Church will never recognize it as a “sacramental” marriage.

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