This article is part four of a five-part series written by Fr Linus Clovis. It should be read in the context of his previous posts on Same Sex Attraction. You can read the previous parts to this series by following these links: Homosexual Struggle; Categories of Homosexuality; Same Sex Attraction: A Catholic Perspective.
In a world that elevates the individual at the expense of the community, the title may appear exaggerated. In a world where the particular lifestyle choice of minorities overrides that of the majority, it may even seem unreasonable. To the myopic always ready to compromise, it is extreme.
Active homosexuality is not an alternative lifestyle but an abnormal lifestyle that has been traditionally condemned by most religious and civil authorities. It has been judged immoral by the majority of people, though in modern times, where freedom is sometimes equated with licence, that is, freedom to behave without restraint, the media argues that morality should not be legislated. In fact, while not all moral values can or should be legislated, there is nothing to legislate but morality. A speed law is a moral legislation: “thou shalt not drive so fast as to endanger life and limb.”
Since religion seeks to uphold God’s law and civil society the common good, they must both be necessarily seriously concerned in promoting a morally sound and healthy sexual conduct.
The Webster New Collegiate Dictionary defines sex as “the sum of the structural, functional and behavioural characteristics of living beings that subserve reproduction by two interacting parents and that distinguish male and female.” In sheer pragmatic terms, sex is nature’s way of replenishing life. As food maintains the existence of the individual, so sex ensures the continuance of the species.
As reason and experience have clearly shown, normal heterosexual activity is the only form of sexual activity that can guarantee a future for human life on earth and equally, heterosexual marriage is the only sexually active lifestyle that promotes the health and good order of human society.
The sacredness of human life implies that sex, its origin is sacred and should be protected and defended from corrupt and/or irresponsible use. This principle has been recognised by every society and hence the taboos, laws and regulations that have surrounded sexual activity from time immemorial.
In general, homosexual acts are unnatural, sterile and destructive of the natural relationships between the sexes. This is obvious from the fact that heterosexuals reproduce their kind by the use of sex, while active homosexuals multiply by the abuse of sex, by moral contagion and by seduction.
In particular, homosexual acts are contrary to the Law of God, to Catholic teaching, to life in the Spirit of Christ and to the good of the individual.
In regard to the Divine Law, it is to be noted that Sacred Scripture nowhere condemns the homosexual person but, in both the Old and New Testaments, it condemns homosexual acts. This is because, as was shown in my first article, no one can be held culpable for their orientation, but only for their freely chosen acts. It follows then that homosexual acts, being a choice, are contrary to the law of God, to the law of Christ and consequently to the Christian faith.
Homosexual acts are contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which was established and commissioned by Christ to guard and interpret Revelation and the Natural Law. Through its supreme teaching Authority, the Church has, over two millennia, consistently condemned homosexual acts as being a clear violation of Divine Law as is affirmed by the Scriptures and can be known through reason. Homosexual acts, therefore, are against the Catholic faith.
Equally, they are contrary to the Spirit of Christ speaking not only through the Scriptures, but also through the hearts of holy men, women and children who, through the ages, have regarded the homosexual act with horror. Among those of special mention are St Bernard, St. Catherine of Siena and the children of Fatima.
Homosexual acts are certainly against the good of the individual, since with rare exceptions such as the eating of pork, God forbids a thing because it is evil in itself. When a person does something that God has forbidden, he sins not only in disbelieving and disobeying Him, but also by harming himself through an act that is inescapably harmful. In technical terms, Biblical morality is intrinsicist, not nominalist, that is, a particular act is good or bad in itself and not because God says it is good or bad.
It may be helpful at this point to examine the essential elements of a right ordered love between sexual beings.
The friendship between persons of opposite sexes finds it high point in mutual enrichment through heterosexual marriage. This mutual enrichment, blossoming at several levels, is best summed up by Adam’s gasp of wonder on seeing Eve: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Gn.2:23 This wonder, lying dormant in every human heart, awaits the kiss of love to awaken it to a “self-liberating opening out to one of the opposite sex, who is so much like oneself and yet so different.” It offers also the possibility of going beyond one’s own psychological perceptions to new perspectives that a person of one’s own sex cannot provide. The sexual differences provide a complementarity that can be compared to a hand and glove, where two different things enhance each other to form a balanced whole, unlike the foot and sock. There is a psychological complementarity that is experienced even during courtship when the stirrings of a deep physical and biological complementarity, calling for further and more intimate complementarity, are sensed and felt.
Melting is a primary characteristic of love as is declared in the Song of Songs “My soul melted when he spoke.” (5:6) Before a things melts, it is hard and bounded together in itself but, when it melts, it is diffused and extends itself to another thing. Heterosexual love demands the renunciation of one’s own self in order to embrace a self-giving union that enriches both the beloved and the self through the married state and the marriage act from which the gift of life beyond their own shared lives is received. The mutual enrichment of heterosexual marriage consists also in nurturing that new life in the family circle, and giving now not only to the children but furnishing society itself with its basic building block and its future.
Two friends of same sex rightly express their friendship by a love that treats the other as an “other self.” Integral to this is a respect for the mystery of the friend’s openness to the heterosexually complementary other self, that is, the friend’s wife or husband. A true friend would not wish to exploit or corrupt the sexual powers, which are destined for the mutual enrichment of the friend and the friend’s present or future heterosexual marriage partner.
Homosexual liaisons, on the other hand, and the homosexual act itself deprive their devotees of these creative, integrative, self-liberating and mutually enriching experiences. The liaison of a homosexual couple attempts to mimic marriage, but it cannot be a marriage since it lacks psychological complementarity found only in a healthy heterosexual relationship. Further, it lacks sexual complementarity and so can neither signify healthy union nor give life. The physical homosexual union offends both biology and reason and can never be anything but sterile, nor can it enrich society by providing future citizens, society’s basic building block.
The homosexual act comprises the worse of the other sexual abuses because, like premarital sex, it does not provide familial circumstances for enduring love or nurturing of children and, like contraceptive intercourse and heterosexual anal intercourse it is sterile. Unlike these disorders, which can be corrected, the homosexual union cannot be corrected and, being unnatural, the only corrective is to abandon it.
The homosexual liaison and act, corrupting its practitioners at many levels, condemns them to a life of emptiness, depression and loneliness as George Eliot noted “No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.”
It corrupts spiritually because, rejecting the law of God and of nature, and seducing others into doing the same, it impedes the human growth necessary to support spiritual development.
It corrupts psychologically because, instead of working toward healing, it accepts and reinforces a condition of psychologically conflicted sexual energies and rejects the rich promise of heterosexual love.
It corrupts intellectually because it ignores and even denies the clear biological evidence that the act is perverted, and the psychological evidence that this sexual relationship with one of the same sex cannot provide the psychic complementarily which nature provides through a heterosexual mate.
It corrupts socially because not only does it fail to produce children, the building blocks and the future life of society but it also establishes a false lifestyle whose existence adds confusion to sexual roles and corrupts the morally weak, especially the young who are not yet firmly established in a normal sexual orientation. It also adds insult to injury by casting suspicion on one of the best of all values, a close and devoted friendship between two persons of the same sex.
Homosexuality is morally corrupting for all the foregoing reasons and, therefore, is destructive of the individual and the society. Consequently, it is religiously condemned, spiritually corrupt, ontologically absurd, psychologically conflicted, intellectually indefensible, procreatively impotent, sexually deviant, socially disruptive, maritally impossible and so, for the liberation of those trapped in it and for the sake of the common good, it should be returned to the closet.