#LoveWins!!! This hashtag has been making quite the rounds on the internet these days after the verdict of the United States to allow homosexual marriages. This was seen by many as a socially bold decision and considered by few a slap of the face of the Church. Few saw this and supported it because of their belief in the movement while majority just piggy backed this movement because ‘it was the cool thing to do.‘ But I thought it would be right to mention what the church really believes with regards to this whole so called controversial topic of homosexuality.
The church being one of the oldest institutions in the world has always used reason and faith together to understand life, people and even God. This is no different when it comes to the moral understanding with regards to homosexuality. The church has never said, ‘Homosexuality is wrong because I said so.‘ If you have heard this reply to all your questions on homosexuality then I would just say you went to the wrong person.
In this debate of homosexuality, three distinctions made by the church are often neglected. The church considers three aspects of homosexuality – The person, the inclination, the action or the behavior. Now let us look at each of these individually–
THE PERSON – Any person, whatever be their sexual orientation, gender, caste, creed, religion must be treated with dignity and love. No discrimination should be done on the grounds of sexual orientation as this goes against the teachings of the Church. A homosexual person is also made in the image and likeness of God just like any other heterosexual. God loves everybody wholeheartedly and his death on the cross was not for a selected few but for everyone. The Church condemns any sort of condemnation or ill judgment of a homosexual person.
CCC 2358: 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 INCLINATION – This is still not conclusively proven by science to be genetic. However, the inclination can be caused by two aspects – Nature and Nurture. Social, emotional and psychological circumstances can cause a person to be homosexual. Research is still being carried on to conclusively prove that homosexuals are genetically formed (there are only theories presented for now). The inclination of an individual towards homosexuality is not an issue with the church. Objectively the inclination to homosexuality is disordered, however in compassion and wisdom the Church does not negate the subjective aspect to this inclination. The Church as mentioned earlier, looks on them with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
THE ACTION – This is where the problem begins. Homosexual unions and marriages go against the fundamental teachings of the Church on the sacrament of marriage. Men and women are designed to complement each other in all aspects of life. Homosexual male or a homosexual female can under no circumstances become the opposite sex, even though they undergo series of operations and body changes through science. The role of a female and a male is different in society without any one gender being superior to the other. Homosexual union is unnatural because it goes against the complementarity of the sexes and the procreative power of the sexual faculty.
This distinction is crucial in the understanding of homosexuality. However we must note that these distinctions are not entirely air tight compartments separated from one another, with one having nothing to do whatsoever with the other. The inclination does impact the behavior and the person and all have a role to play. But what is important to note is that there is still a distinction.
Like for example – I am a heterosexual (inclination) however I chose not to marry and live a celibate life (action), these two aspect shape my personality but do not change my dignity of being a person in the eyes of God.
Now once this is clarified, the understanding of the Catholic Church’s teaching becomes clear. The church believes that all homosexuals are called to chastity like everyone else.
CCC 2359 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.
Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. (CCC 2337)
There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church. (St. Ambrose, De viduis 4, 23: PL 16,255A)
In absolutely no way am I saying that this journey of living a chaste life is going to be easy. Let alone homosexuals, even heterosexuals struggle with it. The journey is a struggle but the assurance of the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20 will always be there,
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”.
St. Padre Pio said that if you are struggling with temptation then it is only a sign that your soul is pleasing to God.
The Church does not dilute its teachings to suit the majority. The Church is not a democracy, but the bride of Christ. The sacrament of marriage has not changed even one bit because of the verdict given by Supreme Court of the United States. I remember a line my friend once said at a college debate when she was outnumbered by the audience for holding on her Catholic belief. The judge stood and said, ‘the majority have spoken so convincingly‘ and that is exactly when she stood up and interrupted the judge by saying, “God and I make majority, the rest are all numbers.” Remember Hitler had the numbers, Jesus had twelve ordinary men as followers, yet today Jesus is worshipped because He dared to be different, because He dared to stand by the truth.
The one thing that I agree with in this whole uproar of homosexuality is the hashtag used #LoveWins.
Love had already won when He was nailed on the cross and defeated death for our salvation.