One of the biggest roadblocks to a young person’s faith is the perception that the Church is not accepting of persons with same-sex attraction. One hears gay Sodomites caused God to pour down fires from heaven and gay people are going to hell. Then they have an epiphany…they meet a gay person. He or she doesn’t seem to be the Anti-Christ looking for an opportunity to place a 666 chip in your brain. In fact, he or she can seem pretty darn kind, and another person’s faith bites the dust! Peace out homophobes, I’m moving in with Mitchell and Cameron (if you’re old, that is a Modern Family joke). What’s a Catholic to believe?
It would be prudent to start with things the Catholic Church does NOT teach.
Just Pray Away the Gay!
Something rampant among Evangelicals is the idea that being gay is a choice. According to mainstream Evangelicals, one could either choose to like things like guns and chewing tobacco or male cheerleading and tight pants.
You are not born gay, but choose to skip instead of walk. Ben Carson, who is running for President and also a mainstream Evangelical, recently stated that being gay is a choice. His proof is this: so many people go into prison straight and become gay, so obviously being gay is a choice… I’m at a loss for words. Maybe prisoners should be brought to a strip club after the slammer for a “be healed!” moment.
So what’s the Catholic position (no pun intended). Truth is always in-between two extremes, and the Catholic Church is built on the rock of balance. The Catholic Church believes that we all are born with desires that incline us towards the good, the beautiful and the fulfilling things that make us happy. However, we also inherit desires that we must do battle against. Those desires which incline us away from the way of love and happiness. All men are created equal and we all share this experience. G.K. Chesterton said, “We all in the same boat, and we are all seasick.”
We all have souls, which is what makes us unique in the animal kingdom and gives us autonomy over these desires. The Church believes those inclined to sexually desire the same sex usually did not choose this desire. However, they have the immense power to control it and channel it to walk in the way of Love.
“Either man governs his passions (desires) and finds peace, or he let’s himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.”
“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” (CCC 2357– 2359).
-Catechism of the Catholic Church
2. The Biggest Sinner Award goes to…Mr. and Mr. Gay?
You would think with all the fuss over gay marriage, Ellen should win the Sinner of the Year Award.
But, in fact, she would be at the end of the line. Many people think homosexuality is one of the highest sins committed by man. Yet, Thomas Aquinas said lust and sins of the flesh, although they are deadly sins, are the least among the deadly sins. Why? Because they are usually caused from one giving into one’s fallen biological and psychological desires.
The greatest sins come from giving in to the fallen desires of the soul. The deadliest sin one can commit is spiritual pride. The hardening of one’s heart, causing a choke-hold to be placed on mercy, love and grace. In fact, if one was to walk by a “gay” man or woman and think to themselves, “Sinner, I hope you enjoy hell,” they would be committing a far graver sin than the “gay man” giving into his misguided sexual desires.
Who gets the Sinner of the Year Award? Religious hypocrites, who cast condemnation instead of reaching a hand of mercy. Who did Jesus do battle with the most? Prostitutes? No. Tax Collectors? No. Most these men and women knew they needed God’s Mercy. It was the Pharisees and the Scribes, the religious elite of the day, who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous (Matthew 18:9).” They thought they didn’t need surgery on their stone cold hearts by the Divine Physician (See Matthew 18:9-14).
3. Gay people are sinners therefore mean and evil!
Those persons with same sex attractions are usually very compassionate and don’t seem like they want to steal your soul or your children’s soul. How can one who is supposedly damned for all eternity be so damn nice? Think of any other of your friends who are dealing with a sin such as pornography or lust. They can still be compassionate and kind while struggling with this sin. This is because, the lower types of deadly sins do not totally corrupt human virtue and human love in the soul. Although, if one commits mortal sin (1 Jn. 5:16-17), they do not have God’s Love flowing through them, one still can be virtuous on a human level. That is why you probably know nice atheists and agnostics. However, the difference between Ellen’s and Mother Teresa’s kindness and love is infinite.
4. “God Hates Gays”
Everyone is familiar with the disgusting “God Hates Fags” signs. Does God hate gays? God seems to burn with anger at those “gay” Sodomites in Genesis 18.
Oh Lord, how easily is your Word misinterpreted! St. Peter says, “There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction…” The truth is Sodom and Gomorrah was more like a prison and less like a gay bar. The Sodomites were looking to have sex with anything that had two legs, like Big Bubba in the clink.
In the Book of Judges (Chapter 19), one of the tribes of God’s People, the Benjaminites, had become so corrupt they repeated the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Their souls had become so disposed towards the sexual exploitation of another that the narrative is almost identical to the account of the Sodomites. Except in the Benjaminite story, when they couldn’t have the male sojourner for their sexual exploits, they raped the sojourner’s wife. The Benjaminites would go to any extreme to satisfy their lustful desires, whether it was Eve or Steve. The Sodomites would have done the same to Lot’s daughters had not the angels been there to save the day.
Also, a huge no-no for God’s people was not being hospitable to travelers and sojourners. “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as a native among you, and you shall love him as yourself (Leviticus 19:33).” The Sodomites were not exactly providing a Holiday Inn with free wifi and a pool to the angels.
Therefore, homosexuality is not the exclusive sin that he was punishing them for, it was the Sodomites total lack of love for their neighbor. “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40)” of the Old Testament: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)” and, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:4).” The Sodomites were the supreme example of a nation that railed against these two commandments.
Lastly, to say that “God hates” homosexuals is like saying Mother Teresa secretly was a Mobster. Both leave a bad feeling in your soul.
Just look at the New Testament and see if you can still justify the statement, ‘God hates.” If you can justify it, you might want to get a new pair of lenses and a heart transplant!
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘you shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement and whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘you fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” Does God have a get out of jail free card for the laws he instituted? And how about this one, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is Love (1 Jn. 4:8)?” I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say there is no sin that can cause God to hate.
5. Convert You Sinner!
It is not us saints versus those gay sinners. WE ARE ALL SINNERS! Pope Francis was asked at the beginning of his pontificate, who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? He replied, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner….Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
We all have to fight sin and errant desires which lead to unhappiness. That is why when you talk with one who struggles with same-sex attraction, you don’t seek to convert them, but direct them to the One who has looked upon you in mercy and is in the midst of surgery on your own soul. We are all on the operating table together, encouraging each other through the procedure!
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination…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.
-Catechism of the Catholic Church