Dear Father: What is the Church’s stance on homosexuality? Are same-sex relationships/marriages allowed? I’ve done some of my own research but I want to hear what you have to say.
Dear friend in Christ,
This is an important question. Thanks for asking it.
The Church does not reduce people to their sexual preferences. The world reduces people to their sexual preferences. The world labels and categorizes people based on who they are attracted to. This reduces our humanity. The Church never reduces people’s humanity – she always seeks to increase and enlarge our humanity.
Instead, the Church labels people based on their inestimable human dignity. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. This is the Church’s stance on homosexuality: people who struggle with same-sex attraction are beloved sons and daughters of the Father.
And because the Church seeks to enlarge and expand people’s humanity, the Church calls all people to chastity and some people to chastity and celibacy.
Chastity is using our sexuality in a holy way. Each of us is a sexual being. Our sexuality is one of the most beautiful and powerful gifts God has given us. The Church asks chastity from all people from every walk of life.
Using our sexuality in a holy way takes place in the context of our unique vocation in life. A marriage between a husband and wife is the only context God designed to create human life. This means that for a married husband and wife, to come together in the sexual act and to be open to new life, sex is holy. Think about that. It increases their humanity and leads them closer to God. On the other hand, to come together sexually outside of a marriage between a man and a woman which is open to life (which is the only way for sex to be holy) leads them further from God. This is true for all people who are not married – including single people, people who identify as gay, priests, and nuns.
Thus, the Church also calls some people to chastity and celibacy. Celibacy is the beautiful and difficult calling to abstain from the good of marriage and the physical expression of our sexuality. Celibate people have been invited by the Lord to live lives which do not include sexual intimacy but instead are filled and overflowing with other kinds of love and intimacy. Priests and nuns are called to celibacy and choose to embrace it as part of their vocations. The Church also calls single people and people who struggle with same-sex attraction to celibacy. Those who are celibate do not cease to be sexual beings nor do they repress their sexuality; instead, with God’s help, they use the beautiful gift of their sexuality in a way that leads to true freedom, inner peace, confidence and deep happiness.
Remember, Jesus was celibate. Celibacy is not natural. It is supernatural.
Being celibate is difficult at times but it is not a life of loneliness. All people get lonely in this life. Being celibate opens up your heart to love in more powerful ways than what society offers.
The world wants you to believe that indulging in sexual pleasure is the ultimate happiness and goal of this life. It is not. Learning to make a total gift of yourself for the glory of God and the salvation of souls is the ultimate goal of this life and that which leads to perfect happiness.
Two organizations that offer support and resources to Catholics who experience same-sex attraction are Eden Invitation and Courage.
Check out the Catechism numbers 2358 and 2359 for more on the official teaching of the Church.