What does the Catholic Church teach about homosexuality? Finding an answer to such a simple question should be an easy matter, but in this era of catastrophic confusion, nothing is simple or easy. And why is this so? Why does it require a minor miracle to receive an accurate and complete answer to fundamental questions about the faith – and in this case, about homosexuality? It is because either our Church leaders are ignorant of Catholic teaching, and therefore cannot give a correct answer, or because they know Catholic teaching but personally reject it, and therefore will not give a correct answer, or else, because they fear men rather than God, and therefore dare not give a correct answer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following on homosexuality:
Chastity and Homosexuality
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,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 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.
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.
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.
Homosexuality itself is a disorder, and every homosexual act is, objectively speaking, a grave sin. Persons with this disorder deserve our sympathy and compassion. Homosexuals are to be treated with charity and are not to be denied basic human rights. A person with this affliction is not guilty by virtue of having such desires, but only if they act on such desires. This means that a homosexual man or woman could certainly be holy and pleasing to God, for having resisted their temptations. However, giving in to such unnatural temptations with a person of the same gender – as is the case with a person who gives into unnatural temptations with a person of the opposite gender – is to surrender to grave sin. It is to lay down one’s will at the feet of lust and to be conquered by it. On the contrary, every single human person must fight this fight or lose their soul to the preternatural tempter.
Mercy, charity, and honesty require that we give this complete answer. Homosexual acts are gravely sinful. It is the truth and we cannot lie about it without being guilty ourselves. To do so is the antithesis of mercy, charity, and honesty. What is true homophobia and actual hate speech directed against homosexuals? It is silence regarding the morality of homosexual acts. That is the vice of cowardice or neglect disguised as the virtue of tolerance.
Chastity is the proper use of one’s sexual faculties in accord with the divine moral law and one’s station in life. Every human person is called to chastity. This means that the single person must abstain from all sexual acts. So, too, must the divorced person and the widow, not to mention the priest and the professed religious. Even the married person must remain chaste. This means that they may have sexual relations only with their spouse, and in accord with the willingness of their spouse. But it doesn’t stop there. Married persons must also abstain from all unnatural sexual acts. In other words, the married state does not entitle spouses to sexual license. If a husband and wife perform the same unnatural acts as homosexuals perform, those acts do not become natural, simply because they were performed by a husband and wife. God forbid! Holy Matrimony cannot make pure that which is impure by nature.
Why do I go into all this? In order to put homosexuality in context. It is often claimed that the requirement of the Catholic Church that homosexuals abstain from all homosexual acts is cruel and unusual treatment. But there is nothing special, nothing more extreme, required of homosexuals than God and His Church require of non-homosexuals. It is the same for everyone; it is holy chastity that is asked of all of us.
We can follow the way of light, or we can follow the way of darkness. We can follow the high road, or we can follow the low road. In either case, we will inescapably arrive at the destination we have chosen by our free human acts, forever and ever.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life. And few there are who find it” (Mt. 7:13-14).