For this Five Facts article, we explore two topics that add together to form a big issue this election year.
Five Facts: Catholic Teachings regarding Homosexuality and Marriage
- Marriage “is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.” (CCC 1601)
- In Matthew 19:4-5, Christ answers the Pharisees question on divorce and reaffirms the model of marriage between one man and one woman. Also see CCC 1605 and 1614 for further Scriptural evidence for this.
- The Church teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsicly disordered because this type of conjugal union removes all possibility of openness to life. (CCC 2357)
- The Church very clearly states that homosexual people must be treated respect, compassion, and dignity. Every sign of unjust discrimination must be avoided. (CCC 2358)
- The Church calls homosexuals to lives of chastity, and in doing so can fulfill God’s will in their lives through prayer and sacramental grace. (CCC 2358, 2359)
Before we begin discussing this topic, I truly want to stress the importance of compassion. This is a very emotionally charged topic, and this discussion is framed around how marriage is properly ordered toward God and why this is an issue that Catholics must take seriously. But we must do so with the utmost love and respect for our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters.
Why does the Church care so much about sex and marriage?
Many of the Church teachings cited in the Five Facts series are based on the concept of Natural Law – that there is a natural way that the world is ordered and should behave. One of the primary aspects of Natural Law is the procreative nature of the world: our ability to create more human beings. Marriage is the sacramental protection to nurture, properly order, and protect one of the most precious gifts that we receive from God: the gift of new life in children. Because of the great power contained within human sexuality, it becomes an equally great target for misuse, abuse, and assault. Therefore, the Church is obligated to teach on this and clearly outline the proper context and ordering of marriage within society according to God’s Will. The “Further Reading” section below contains links to the Catechism regarding marriage, which provides the rest of the story.
So what’s the big deal?
This election year, a major issue has been made over attempts to redefine the concept of marriage. Holding aside religious arguments for a moment, a large part of the reason that the government recognizes marriage in the first place is because it provides a common good for society: more citizens. The financial benefits, tax breaks, and other niceties that the government provides for legally recognized marriage are there to help support the common good of the family unit so they they can prosper and create more generations of citizens to foot the many bills that government asks us to pay.
That’s nice… but why the big uproar from the Catholic community? Here’s where we begin to get into religious and spiritual arguments. As I outline above, sacramental marriage must be ordered toward life and Christ Himself refers to marriage being between one man and one woman. Being “ordered toward life” means that the possibility of life must be embraced via the natural means that God has provided man and woman. That does NOT mean that every marriage must have children, in fact you can live an extremely grace-filled and sacramental marriage if you are unable to have children for medical reasons. Homosexual relationships, speaking on a purely mechanical level, cannot produce offspring using natural means. That violates the intent of the Sacrament of Marriage, so it cannot be condoned.
If you choose to take exception to the way the Magisterium has defined marriage, you can turn to Scripture. Christ does not stutter in Matthew 19, the Scriptural foundation as outlined in Genesis is reaffirmed by Our Lord. Without exception, Christ’s Word is good enough for me and I don’t really see a good way that any Bible-believing Christian can get around that teaching.
Can’t you just lighten up and let them do what they want?
Before I answer that question, let me be clear: homosexuality (sometimes called same-sex attraction) is a temptation just like any other thing that humans are tempted to do. That’s not directly sinful, but acting on it is. That’s why the Church calls those with homosexual tendencies to lives of celibacy… it’s so they can live a grace-filled and Sacramental life despite this temptation. As a Catholic, I can’t in good conscience just turn a blind eye allow something to be normalized that takes my friends further away from God.
Within the last six months I have been called bigoted, hate-filled, and idiotic for believing this teaching. The part that nobody seems to understand is that this teaching is grounded in love. The Church wants everyone to turn toward God and live the way He wants us to live, and I want this for my friends as well. It’s not denying them something they want out of fear or hate, it’s pointing at the fact that Christ is calling them to resist temptation and serve Him in a greater way.
For further reading on this topic, check out the following: