The Catholic Church teaches that the homosexual tendency is not a sin:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. - e.g. in Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 3, 1 October 1986 | CDF.

What is the scriptural basis, if any, for the Catholic teaching that the homosexual tendency is of itself not a sin?

2 Answers 2


The Catholic teaching that the homosexual tendency is not a sin is based on the universal principle that sin requires the use of the will--you cannot sin by accident. See ST II I, q. 71, a. 5, objection & reply 2; ST II I, q. 75, a. 2 & 3; and CCC 1849-1851.

This is a commonsensical principle of human responsibility that is presupposed by scripture (and every legal system in the world). Although, like many other such principles, scripture does not philosophically define this relation of will/volition to sin, we can see it underlying scriptural passages in many places. For example:

  • Joshua 20:1-9 illustrates the mitigation of sin and culpability when someone causes a death by accident.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that we will be judged for what we do. Personal action is involved in sin and judgment, and personal action requires an act of the will.
  • Without knowing and willing what one is doing, sin cannot exist (Romans 5:13, Romans 7:7).
  • Jesus asks that his executioners be forgiven and provides only one reason: they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).
  • This is a commonsensical principle of human responsibility that is presupposed by scripture (and every legal system in the world) I guess you've not heard of involuntary manslaughter, which people do go to jail for. A drunk driver hits another drive and the crash kills the sober driver. The drunk driver then goes to jail because of that person's death, not the DWI. This supposes that the breaking of the law leaves you responsible for subsequent accidental breakings of the law.
    – user3961
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:14
  • Actually, accident and ignorance of the law is rarely a successful defense. Further, the Bible supports that you are responsible for accidental crime that spawns from negligence. Exodus 21:12-36 supports this too. The verses in Joshua are about sanctuary from vigilantes for those accused of a crime. Exodus is the prescriptive law for the crimes. Romans 5:13 points out that without the law you cannot be held guilty, not that ignorance of the law is an excuse. Romans 7 supports your argument somewhat. You should stress that more.
    – user3961
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:14
  • Luke 23 is a special case; they were murdering and rejecting Christ the Lord. It was blasphemy of the Spirit. So, in light of what I see as sweeping and incorrect statements, I'm issuing a downvote.
    – user3961
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:15
  • There's also Romans 9, which seems pretty clear that God intends some for destruction and others for glory, which implies that some are made so sin and others not. But that's a bigger and different topic. I just wanted to through it out there.
    – user3961
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:23
  • The point is that the law distinguishes involuntary manslaughter from murder, etc. Negligence is just the claim that the will was involved, but more remotely. When the law determines that the will was not involved whatsoever (e.g. insanity) there is no punishment. (In other words, everything I said above holds)
    – zippy2006
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:07

Another scriptural answer would be "We are born in sin, shaped in iniquity". (Bible)

How this scripture would fit, is that some homosexual people say they believe they had a leaning in this direction from their earliest recollections.

It could be understood that because all of mankind and creation were plunged into the fall and sin by Adam and Eve, that the homosexual leaning may exist in people because all of creation and mankind were plunged into sin, and this sin nature may not be a choice that the one leaning toward homosexuality made.

  • 2
    "We are born in sin, shaped in iniquity". (Bible) - Exact scriptural quote?
    – user13992
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 6:43
  • 1
    @FMS It's from psalm 51, where David is begging God for mercy regarding his sin with Bathsheba. This is the lets-not-mention-women translation, removed from context. It is often used for this purpose, though not by Catholics, and I don't think it's a very good interpretation of the verse. Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 20:23

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