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Homosexuality: Ethics, Healthiness, Genetics, & Identity

By Luke Lancaster

Some will mistakenly argue that the Catholic Church hates homosexuals. This ignores the fact that Catholicism teaches that every person with same-sex attraction needs to be treated with the utmost love and respect. Catholics uphold the dignity of the human person, so any lack of charity from a Catholic towards such a person is offending God in the process. Some Catholics unfortunately have treated those with same-sex attraction as if they were second-class citizens, whereas others, such as Mother Teresa, have treated them with the upmost respect. For all humans are made in the image of God Himself, regardless of their actions (Genesis 1:27-28). Catholicism should be judged based on those who followed this teaching, rather than on those who did not follow this teaching.

For example, when many homosexuals developed AIDS in the 20th century, Catholics frequently jumped in to help. Mother Teresa would care deeply for thousands of AIDS victims, and Cardinal John O’Connor from New York would change the bedpans and clean the sores of AIDS victims in a New York City hospital unit – which he started. With that acknowledged, Catholicism does teach that homosexual actions are disordered. Why, though? Society is highly frustrated at this claim and will attack any person who claims it. This article will attempt to give an answer and will analyze the various topics related to homosexuality from a Catholic perspective.


What kind of desire is a homo-sexual desire? Let’s start with biology. Sexual desires are biologically designed for the procreation of children. That is the purpose of our reproductive parts – for reproduction. That is how God ordered humanity. Children only come about through the intimate union between a man and a woman. They do not come about through a man with a plant, a man with an animal, a man with himself, or a man with another man. The homo-sexual desire is, then, disordered.

Pointing out this reality is not meant to insult and point the finger at others. The whole world sins, and sin in general is a disordering of self. Humanity is ordered towards genuine love of neighbor, yet frequently this becomes disordered. Anger, murder, lust, adultery, etc. are all disordered desires and actions. Someone might desire to pig-out and eat a dozen donuts for lunch. That is a disordered desire for food. Someone might desire to refuse donations to charities. That is the disordered desire for wealth – known as greed. All of these desires are not properly ordered towards the virtues of love, chastity, moderation, and generosity.

The same is true for homo-sexual desires. It is a disordered desire that is not properly ordered towards procreation. In fact, Catholicism would go so far as to say that it is gravely disordered. This does not imply that such desires are sinful in and of themselves, though. Desires are not always willed. Sin only comes into the equation when one recognizes the desire. So, if someone felt envious over a friend’s success, such a feeling is just a feeling. It would only be a sin if he recognized the desire and fueled it with more anger or treated his friend with disrespect.

The Calling

Some will be angry at being told that they cannot willfully desire and act in a homosexual manner. Despite their anger, Catholics call upon those with homosexual attractions to live out the beautiful calling to celibacy. This sounds baffling to many, but all need to understand that love does not have to involve sexuality. Love is ultimately about willing the good of another person. Men who love their country will go off to war to defend it. They will the good of their country. Priests who love their flock will funnel all of their desires into serving the sheep of the Church. They will the good of their Church. Nuns like Mother Teresa spend their whole lives caring for the poor. They will the good of the poor. Single-mom’s will lovingly sacrifice everything about them for the well-being of their children. They will the good of their children. None of these things involve sexuality.


Besides the fact that the body is biologically designed for sexual union with the opposite-sex, consider the issues that come about from those who engage in homosexual practices. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are massively popular amongst the homosexual population and are horrible to live with. A CDC Press Release on July 9th of 2002 said, “In a large CDC study, conducted in sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics in five major U.S. cities, researchers found the rate of new HIV infections among…[homosexual men] to be nine times higher than women and heterosexual men” ( Whenever sexual ordering is perverted, God lets everybody know.


Many will claim that they were simply “born this way.” However, contemporary studies claim that homo-sexual desires are a result of genetics and environment. It is a combination of nature and nurture. Many are the result of the environment in which one grew up in. For example, if a son has little attention and approval from his father, some adult males have testified that they then went into the homosexual lifestyle as a result. For such men longed for the attention and approval from their fathers, and when they did not get it, they attempted to receive it from other males in a romantic way. Some females testify that they lived a homosexual lifestyle only because they had experienced sexual abuse from their previous boyfriends. Becoming lesbian was a mechanism of self-protection. This is not to say that every homosexual has wounds, though.

Some people could also have a genetic predisposition for homosexuality. However, does this prove that homosexuality must be acceptable? Consider that there is a genetic basis for anger – it runs in families. Does this mean that people with anger problems should be given approval from others when they erupt? When they berate people and act violently, should we just say that they were “born this way”? No. A genetic basis does not mean that every person who experiences anger is justified in getting angry all the time. This genetic argument for homosexuality proves nothing about its morality. There is even a genetic basis for pedophilia, and most people do not think that that is acceptable.

Finally, regardless of the genetic vs. environment debate, some people choose their sexuality. For example, heterosexual males who enter prisons frequently end up becoming homosexual males. It was only within a certain environmental condition (prison) that such a sexuality started for them. This is not to say that homosexual desires is a choice for everyone, but it does show that it is a choice for some.


Many in the culture who experience homo-sexual attractions claim that they identify as gay. However, what is identity? According to the Catholic Church, people are made in the image of God – just as a son is made in the image of his parents. One is not “gay”, rather, one is “loved by God.” That is one’s true identity. People are made with inestimable worth and dignity because they image God. The culture is missing this truth. They think that their feelings determine their identity, rather than the biblical idea that every person by nature is in the image of God.

If feelings determined identity, then consider the absurdities it creates. If a married man is attracted to the woman on the billboard, is that his identity? Should he introduce himself to others as an adulterer? Or if a man named Bob fornicated with my neighbor, is that his identity? Should he introduce himself as “Bob the fornicator”? No. Feelings can change, just as actions can change. So, there needs to be a fundamental distinction between the person and their desires.

The Root Issue

The root issue over people refusing to follow these teachings on sexuality really boils down to love of God. If I am madly in love with Jesus, then I will do whatever He asks me to do. He could ask me to walk on my hands for the rest of my life - and I would do it. If He says through the apostle Paul that homosexual actions are shameful (Romans 1:26-27), then I will unhesitatingly avoid them. If He says that marriage is between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:3-6), then I will unhesitatingly avoid a homo-sexual marriage. Love for God is truly the answer to every controversial teaching.

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