FR. JOHN TRIGILIO: Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life . . .
This question has become more common in recent years with the passage of laws in some states that recognize homosexual unions and, more recently, judges legalizing same-sex “marriage.”
The Catholic Church has always taught that the homosexual inclination is disordered. It distinguishes the sexual orientation from sexual activity. It is not sinful to have homosexual orientation, but it is sinful to engage in homosexual behavior. The Church still considers the orientation disordered but recognizes many homosexuals do not choose to have this inclination. Only when they engage in homosexual activity is there culpable sin.
Any and all human sexual activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, outside of marriage (between one man and one woman) is considered seriously and gravely sinful. Masturbation, adultery, promiscuity, fornication, artificial contraception, pornography, and homosexuality pervert the original intention that God has for marriage, namely love (unitive dimension) and life (procreative dimension).
It’s impossible to see homosexual unions as being in line with God’s intentions for marriage since the product of intercourse is not fruitful. Along with masturbation, fornication, and adultery, homosexuality is a selfish act that cannot fulfill the divinely ordained purpose of the reproductive powers. The Church teaches that God instituted the sacrament of Marriage, and only He has the authority to change the nature of marriage. Neither the Church nor the state has the competence to alter the substance of marriage or the family. Attempts by civil government or the courts to alter the law in favor of same-sex unions distort the true meaning of marriage, which has existed for thousands of years.
The Church encourages people who suffer from the disorder of same-sex attraction to live a chaste and celibate life. Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life — single, married, or celibate. It is a virtue in which our thoughts, words, and actions are modest. Celibacy is a discipline by which one does not marry.
The grace from frequent Confession will help the homosexually oriented person in his or her commitment to be chaste. There are also many good Catholic support groups (for example, Courage) to help people with homosexual tendencies to live good and virtuous lives. Other groups, like Dignity, which promote monogamous relationships, are not considered in conformity with Catholic teaching.
Sexual intercourse is a holy and sacred act reserved for husband and wife, who are a man and woman married in the eyes of God, and who are committed to living a permanent, faithful and, God-willing, fruitful union.
FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions,” which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.
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.
The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2358, 1603