Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about gay/lesbian rights and many seemingly confused statements about the beliefs and position of the Catholic Church on this issue.
So being the Catholic school student that I am, and rather well versed in Catholic Morality, I am going to clear this up for anyone who bothers to read.
Let us begin by bringing up some of the major arguments which I will be addressing (this is just a few of them, but I think these will get the point across).
- Catholics are “homophobic.”
- People should be able to love whoever they want, no matter what gender.
- Homosexual and heterosexual relationships aren’t that different: it’s marriage either way isn’t it?
- What if that fetus you saved is homosexual? Will you defend its rights?
1. Catholics are “homophobic.”
First of all, what is homophobia anyway? By separating the prefix “homo-” and the suffix “-phobia” we can determine the literal mean of the word. “Phobia-“ means “fear of” and “homo-” means “same” so homophobia must mean “fear of the same.” That of course, is a very broad statement to make so the immediate answer to this argument is no. Absolutely not.
So we’ve started simple, but that won’t be enough to disprove this argument. Knowing the context of the word homophobic as referring to same sex marriages and relations, we can now apply the argument to this specificity.
So getting right to it, no Catholics are not homophobic. We are not scared of homosexuals, nor do we “hate” them, believe that are going to Hell, or otherwise mistreat them.
It is not the people that Catholics disapprove of, but the relations. Someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a bad person, nor are they not accepted by the Church (quick answer there is that everyone is accepted by Catholicism - the word “catholic” means universal!!). All of us are children of God, created in His image, and deserve to be treated as such. What the Church does not accept is when these people act on their desires.
Everyone is drawn to sin. For instance, it is sinful to be drunk, but not to drink. Sometimes people lose control, and become drunk. Does that mean they are terrible people? Of course not. Does being human mean they should get drunk again? No! We are constantly working to better ourselves, and to purge ourselves sin. So a person who has homosexual feelings must work in the same way to avoid acting on them.
To wrap this bit up, Catholics are not homophobic. People who have homosexual feelings are not sinful, but it is sinful to act on those feelings, just as it goes with any other sin. We do not believe that homosexuals are going to Hell - it is God’s judgement which decides this, not ours. They are to be accepted with respect, compassion, and dignity.
2. People should be able to love whoever they want, no matter what gender.
Right. People shouldn’t only be able to love whoever they want, but should simply love everyone. So why does the Church disapprove of homosexual relationships?
To start with, there are three different kinds of love.
- Philios - friendship, love of those who are not our significant other (that’s all but one person, right?)
- Eros - romantic love
- Agape - love of God
We have the capacity to love many different people in different ways. You probably don’t love your mother the same way you do your best friend, or your sibling, the same as your boyfriend or girlfriend. So people can love whoever they want. I love my girl friends, but does that mean I’m going to go out and have homosexual relations with them? Definitely not. That may be an awkward thing to bring up, but it’s true isn’t it? We can love whoever we want without commending homosexual relationships.
3. Homosexual and heterosexual relationships aren’t that different: it’s marriage either way isn’t it?
It may be called marriage either way, but it’s most definitely not the same thing. Men and women are different, and in many ways are complementary. That is extremely important to a successful marriage, but first and foremost in procreation. Two females cannot have sexual intercourse. Two males may have sex, but can they create life? No. Sex is not an act meant for recreation and pleasure. Rather it has two purposes: bettering the relationship of a married man and woman, and procreation. I emphasize the word “and” because these two purposes do not stand alone - they must go together always. That can’t happen if procreation is impossible. (While it may not always be the case, but this situation can sometimes lead to other sin such as adultery, getting eggs/sperm from banks, etc. - just something to think about.)
Beyond this, men and women differ in temperament, sensitivity, aggression, etc. These differences compliment each other. Without these complementary differences, the deepest forms of union are impossible. With two men or two women, the dynamic of the relationship would be lopsided.
I won’t go into too much detail on this point, but it’s necessary to at least ripple the surface. It is scientifically proven that children raised in a home with both biological parents are far more likely to succeed in school and work, to be healthy, and most importantly, to be happy. Children adopted by a homosexual couple are more often gender confused, and they may be bullied because of their parents nonconformity. Furthermore, men and women have distinctly different parenting styles, both of which are needed by their children. Again, two men or two women would be lopsided.
4. What if that fetus you saved is homosexual? Will you defend it’s rights?
This starts on a completely different topic, but it needs to be addressed, because this is what made me want to write this. Catholicism is widely known as being against abortion. Think Horton Hear’s a Who. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Sure a baby may start out as just two cells, but from the moment of conception they immediately start to multiply. By the time a woman can find out she’s pregnant, it’s already been several weeks. A heartbeat has started. A baby is developing. People may argue that it’s not a person yet, but have they ever put themselves in that place? What if you’d been the aborted baby? You started out as a few cells didn’t you? And now you’re a grown person. Why isn’t that clump of cells considered a person if it just hasn’t had the chance to grow yet?
But that’s not the point. Catholics will always defend the rights of the babies it saves, because whether they are planned or unplanned, wanted or not, it’s a person. It goes back to the very first topic. Catholics do not hate homosexuals. They are children of God. They are made in His image. We treat them with respect, compassion, sensitivity, etc. - everything heterosexual people are treated with. This fetus that has grown up to be homosexual, is going to be treated just this way. It is, however, still called to chastity. As addressed in third topic, homosexual marriages are a violation of the sanctity of marriage and do not fit the need for couples to be complementary. So are we going to defend that homosexual’s rights? Yes. Because that homosexual, or anyone else, does not have the right to have homosexual relations, just as no one has the right to steal, or rape someone, or commit murder. We will protect the rights that we have, no matter what a person’s sexual orientation is, but we will not protect the rights which we do not have.
Here are some direct quotes on the issue from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- 2359 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.
- 2358 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.
- 2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
*notice this says “homosexuals practices” not “people”
- 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as 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.
I’m not trying to offend anyone in writing this. I’m not trying to convert you, or change your feelings. If you decide you agree, great. I’m glad you do. If not, that wasn’t my purpose. I meant to bring some clarification as to what the Catholic teaching on homosexuality is, and I hope that goal was accomplished.