Homosexuality

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State of the Question

 

Homosexuality/homosexual acts constitute genital acts performed between persons of the same sex.

 

Divine Revelation

 

Genesis 19:1

The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground, he said, "Please, gentlemen, come aside into your servant's house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey." But they replied, "No, we shall pass the night in the town square."  He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking cakes without leaven, and they dined.

Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old--all the people to the last man--closed in on the house.  They called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them."

Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, "I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing.  I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don't do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof."

They replied, "Stand back! This fellow," they sneered, "came here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We'll treat you worse than them!" With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door.  But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.

Then the angels said to Lot: "Who else belongs to you here? Your sons (sons-in-law) and your daughters and all who belong to you in the city--take them away from it!  We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those in the city is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."  So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. "Get up and leave this place," he told them; "the LORD is about to destroy the city." But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.  As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city."  When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD'S mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city.  As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: "Flee for your life! Don't look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away."  "Oh, no, my lord!" replied Lot.  "You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die.  Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It's only a small place. Let me flee there--it's a small place, isn't it?--that my life may be saved."  "Well, then," he replied, "I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of.  Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there." That is why the town is called Zoar.  The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar;  at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the LORD out of heaven).  He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.  But Lot's wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.  Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the LORD'S presence.  As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.  Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

 

Leviticus 18:22

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.

 

Leviticus 20:13

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.

 

Romans 1:26

Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural,  and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.  They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9  

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

1 Timothy 1:8 

We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law,  with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, practicing homosexuals,  kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching,  according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

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.'[CDF, Persona humana 8.] 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."

 

The Magisterium of the Church

 

The teachings of Church on homosexuality are directed toward homosexual acts and not toward the homosexual condition as she is accustomed to teach against heterosexual acts--against the sins not the sinner.

 

The constant and consistent teaching of the Church on the morality of homosexual acts has been unequivocal in her history--homosexual acts are of their very nature seriously wrong.

 

“For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1975, Persona Humana, Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, no. 7)

 

“At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

“A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

“In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

“In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” (Persona Humana: Declaration On Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, VIII, Sacred Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, December 29th, 1975)

 

Ecclesiastical Tradition  

 

Didache (c. 80-140 AD)

You shall not commit adultery; you shall not commit pederasty (7.377).

 

Clement of Rome (c. 96)

It is well that they should be cut off from the lusts of the world, since "every lust wars against the spirit" and "neither fornicators, nor homosexuals ... will inherit the Kingdom of God" (1.34).

 

Aristides (c. 125)

Some polluted themselves by lying with males (9.269).

 

Athenagoras (c. 175)

They do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of ways (2.143).

 

Theophilus (c. 180),

Show me yourself whether you are not an adulterer, a fornicator, a robber, or a thief. Show me that you do not corrupt boys. ... For God is not manifest to those who do these things (2.89).

 

Clement of Alexandria (c. 195)

Men play the part of women, and women the part of men, contrary to nature. Women are at once both wives and husbands.... O miserable spectacle! Horrible conduct! (2.276)

 

Clement of Alexandria (c. 195)

The whole earth has now become full of for­nication and wickedness. I admire the ancient legislators of the Romans. These men detested effeminacy of conduct. The giving of the body to feminine purposes, contrary to the law of nature, they judged worthy of the most extreme penalty (2.77).

 

Clement of Alexandria  (c.195)

The fate of the Sodomites was judgment to those who had done wrong, and instruction to those who hear. The Sodomites had fallen into uncleanness through much luxury. They practiced adultery shamelessly and they burned with insane love for boys (2.282).

 

Tertullian (c. 197)

The Christian man confines himself to the female sex (3.51).

 

Tertullian (c.200)

I find no dress cursed by God except a woman's dress on a man. For he says, "Cursed is every man who clothes himself in woman's attire" (3.71).

 

Tertullian (c. 200)

The coupling of two males is a very shameful thing (3.509).

 

Origin (c. 245)

Such sins are committed by fornicators, adulterers, abusers of themselves with men, effeminate men, idolaters, and murderers (9.500).

 

Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 390)

The sin of Sodom is contrary to nature (7.463).

 

The Teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church

 

St. Thomas, II-II, q. 154, 11

 

I answer that, As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called "the unnatural vice." This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of "uncleanness" which some call "effeminacy." Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called "bestiality." Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Rom. 1:27): and this is called the "vice of sodomy." Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.

 

St. Thomas, II-II, q. 154, 12

I answer that, In every genus, worst of all is the corruption of the principle on which the rest depend. Now the principles of reason are those things that are according to nature, because reason presupposes things as determined by nature, before disposing of other things according as it is fitting. This may be observed both in speculative and in practical matters. Wherefore just as in speculative matters the most grievous and shameful error is that which is about things the knowledge of which is naturally bestowed on man, so in matters of action it is most grave and shameful to act against things as determined by nature. Therefore, since by the unnatural vices man transgresses that which has been determined by nature with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter this sin is gravest of all. After it comes incest, which, as stated above (09), is contrary to the natural respect which we owe persons related to us.

With regard to the other species of lust they imply a transgression merely of that which is determined by right reason, on the presupposition, however, of natural principles. Now it is more against reason to make use of the venereal act not only with prejudice to the future offspring, but also so as to injure another person besides. Wherefore simple fornication, which is committed without injustice to another person, is the least grave among the species of lust. Then, it is a greater injustice to have intercourse with a woman who is subject to another's authority as regards the act of generation, than as regards merely her guardianship. Wherefore adultery is more grievous than seduction. And both of these are aggravated by the use of violence. Hence rape of a virgin is graver than seduction, and rape of a wife than adultery. And all these are aggravated by coming under the head of sacrilege, as stated above (10, ad 2).

Human Reason

 

The Bible teaches that the sexual differentiation of the human race into male and female is divinely willed (Gen 1 and 2); that male and female complement each other and that marriage, rooted in the irrevocable consent of man and woman to be "one flesh" for life, alone respects the goods of human sexuality. Thus, Scripture teaches that marriage provides the normative condition for genital sexual expression; all other expressions of this kind, whether between man and woman or between members of the same sex, are to be evaluated in the light of this norm.*

 

Natural law reveals in considering the right and good use of human sexuality one has only to think through the use of male and female genitalia in design and function to understand what is God's will to the use (intercourse) and the end (procreation) of human sexuality.

 

There is no other cavity of the body that is an apt receptacle to the male penis than the female vagina to satisfy the natural purpose to deposit of semen and its nature to open itself to the creation of new life. There is no natural and complementary design to human bodies to accommodate same sex union. Human bodies have a design created by their Manufacturer.

 

The constant teaching of the Church is that the nature of homosexual acts is naturally and morally wrong. This teaching is clearly based on Scripture and is rooted in the biblical under-standing of sexuality. The Bible teaches that the sexual differen­tiation of the human race into male and female is divinely willed, that male and female complement each other and that marriage, rooted in the irrevocable consent of man and woman to be "one flesh" for life, alone respects the goods of human sexuality. Thus, Scripture teaches that marriage provides the normative condition for genital sexual expression; all other expressions of this kind, whether between man and woman or be­tween members of the same sex, are to be evaluated in the light of this norm. In addition to this general scriptural account of human sexuality, there are specific biblical passages referring to homosexual acts, and in each of these passages such acts are unambiguously condemned.

 

Bibliography/Additional Reading

 

Lawler, Rev. Ronald, O.F.M. Cap., Boyle, Joseph, Jr., and May, William (1996). Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation, and Defense Updated. Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.: Indiana

 

Persona Humana, Declaration On Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Sacred Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, December 29, 1975

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

© 2011 Robert J. Schihl

 

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