I was raised a Catholic, and I have been very disappointed with Christian views toward homosexuality.

Wikipedia summarizes:

Homosexuality is treated in Roman Catholic Church teaching under two forms: homosexual orientation is considered an "objective disorder" because Catholicism views it as being "ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil", but not sinful unless acted upon. Homosexual sexual activity, by contrast, is viewed as a "moral disorder".

Which comes directly from official Catholic sources (emphasis my own):

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. [...] Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

I believe that being gay is not a choice, it's a chemical imbalance in the human body that causes one to be sexually attracted to the same gender. And that sexual attraction is, biologically speaking, the catalyst through which a romantic relationship is initiated between two people. That romantic relationship is what leads to the trust and intimate compassion that we define as love between a married couple.

Here's an excerpt from a paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.2 In recent decades, biologically based theories have been favored by experts.

Of course, homosexuals are free to leave the Church, but these teachings cause social issues for millions of these people who have friends and family who are Catholic. Why should homosexuals feel guilty for having intimate romance with those whom they intimately love, while we straight people enjoy that pleasure of life freely? As a Catholic, this didn't makes sense to me, and it seems to be hurting people, so as a straight man, raised Catholic, I feel responsible to ask this question.

How does the Catholic Church justify the belief that homosexuals should not enjoy consensual romantic relationships with the same sexual freedoms that straight people have?

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    It's your question. If you don't like my suggestions, it's no skin off my back. But your question still seems too opinionated for me to remove my down vote, and it still seems like a repetitive wall-of-text to me. But do as yiu wish.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 14:14
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    Well do try to simplify your question to a more concise one then use the rest of it to answer your own question
    – 007
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 14:48
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    The question seems to be asking for a justification of moral absolutism of Catholicism in a society of moral relativism, with specific focus on homosexuality. (i.e., society thinks this is ok, why does God not?) Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 14:54
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    The question has a lot of good merit, and I'm actually surprised that the basic question of "why does the Catholic Church consider homosexual sex to be sinful?" hasn't been asked before, but the way you have written this question is problematic. yourlogicalfallacyis.com/loaded-question
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 0:26
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    How does the stated question differ from "Why does the Catholic Church consider homosexual sex to be sinful?" How would the answers to these questions differ? And what is your "deeper fundamental question"?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 6:37

3 Answers 3


I'm fully aware that there are those who will fundamentally disagree with the Church on this point. However, I've attempted to present an objective account of the position the Church holds.

The Church justifies it by saying that giving in to the temptation which the human condition provides, in defiance of the divine order which is present in male and female, is contrary to Divine Law.

This was expressed in Persona Humana of 29 December 1975. It speaks in terms of "curable" tendencies, which is dated language today, but the second group are those to whom the question refers.

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finalityA. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God18. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

18 Romans 1:24–27 [quoted in full in the footnote]; See also what St. Paul says of "masculorum concubitores" in I Cor 6:10; I Tim 1:10.

Thus the Church does not necessarily condemn those who have an attraction to their own sex, just as it does not condemn those who are tempted to rob a jeweller's. There is nothing wrong with same-sex companionship, although it may be placing oneself in an overwhelmingly tempting situation; there is nothing intrinsically wrong in entering the jeweller's shop and seeing what's on offer. The sin is to act.

A Finality is used earlier in the document, in a rather technical way:

[In Gaudium et Spes, the Council] took particular care to expound the principles and criteria which concern human sexuality in marriage, and which are based upon the finality of the specific function of sexuality.

In this regard the Council declares that the moral goodness of the acts proper to conjugal life, acts which are ordered according to true human dignity, "does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives. It must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love."10 (My emphasis)

10 GS 49

Sex is part of the human condition not only to express love: it is there for procreation, and to use sex in a way where procreation is ruled out is against the Divine Law.

The question presumes that heterosexual people have sexual freedoms (to which an answer is Well, yes and no), and that those freedoms should be available to all. This is a fallacy. Gaudium et Spes says that heterosexual sex is sinful if it is not part of a loving marriage, that is, as the Church rather than the State defines marriage. It's also a fallacy that life is fair and everyone can be treated the same: should someone who has not been blessed with being able to cook be given a Michelin star? Should someone who enjoys singing but who has a voice like a tone-deaf corncrake join a cathedral choir? Should someone who enjoys meeting people but whose innate make-up causes them to insult everyone they see become a diplomat?

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    . The Church also says each and every sex act can occur only between husband and wife and must be directed toward two ends: love and life, that is, the intimate unity between the man and woman (love) and possibly procreating another human being (life).
    – 007
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 14:17
  • @Kris I think you'll find that towards the end of my answer, but I suppose it does no harm to state it baldly. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 21:09
  • I think this is the most transparent and objective explanation possible based on the question I asked.
    – J.Todd
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 1:45

Short Answer

Strictly speaking, the Church is as against sex among the non-married heterosexuals as it is against sex among non-married homosexuals. By teaching, the Church only accepts as correct sex between a man and a woman who are a married couple. All other sex is considered fornication, adultery, or a variety of other disordered acts. (Offenses Against Chastity per CCC 2350-2356). Marriage between man and woman goes back to Genesis in Scripture, and is further supported by Jesus' teachings in Mark (10) and Matthew (19) where the same language is used:

Mark: 10 6-9
But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Marriage in the order of creation
CCC 1603 "The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws... God himself is the author of marriage."
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.

If you consider marriage to be "a romantic freedom" then you aren't using the same concept of marriage as the Church does in the first place. (I also question whether or not you are married -- I have been for 27+ years).

To repeat your question is to expose its internal error:

How does the Catholic Church justify the belief that homosexuals should not enjoy consensual romantic relationships with the same sexual freedoms that straight people have?

The core points summarized

  • There Isn't Sexual Freedom In the eyes of the Church (see below, Sins against Chastity)

  • "Romantic freedoms" don't enter into it at all

  • Marriage is a sacrament that involves service to the communion as well as the joy of the married couple. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, it exists within the context of a community (and the divine order).

    Your question is a non sequitur at best.

Detailed Answer

The Catholic Church teaches the life of the Faithful in terms of one's vocation:

  • Ordained
  • Married
  • Single

Under that framework, the simplest answer to the question comes from a discussion of the Vocation of Chastity. CCC 2337-2359

  1. Those called to priesthood (or the single men and women called to the consecrated life): No sex for you!
    Vows of celibacy are taken seriously as a form of sacrifice made for a greater good.
  2. Those called to the vocation of married life: sex for you! (With a caveat CCC 2360-2379).

    1534 Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.

    How does the sacramental bond of marriage and the gift of sexuality combine? The Church teaches ...

    III. The Love of Husband and Wife

    2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.
    2361 "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."
    2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude." Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

  3. The call to Single Life: No sex for you!

    The call to Chastity is made to all. Unless one has responded to the call of matrimony, and the vocation of married life, the form of Chastity called for by all of the Faithful is the same as celibacy, be one heterosexual or homosexual.

The Church's position is that God instituted marriage as part of the divine order, not as a mechanism for "romantic freedom." (That term, that concept, isn't within the church's framework). Since the Church only recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman who enter into the sacrament as an act of free will(CCC 1625-1629), same sex marriage doesn't fit into any category -- by the doctrinal definition of marriage. Any attempt at that will fit into the various disordered acts in the "sins against chastity."
So too is any marriage between a man and woman that the church holds as invalid. (The old term for that is "living in sin" but the concept is alive and well!). People go through the process to convalidate their marriages each year in our diocese due to there being some defect or other (usually "we got married by a Justice of the Peace..."). The current rule is that sex between cohabiting man and woman who have not yet convalidated their marriage is a mortal sin --a sin against Chastity.

The homosexuals are not being specially persecuted: single heterosexual people are under the same guidance to abstain while single (we all know how hard that can be ...) and married couples whose marriage is not valid (per Canon Law) are given the same guidance.

  • Not bad but since you're dealing with the question in terms of ability to marriage I'd say you need to at least refer to the reasons why the Catholic Church says that homosexuals can't marry each other. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:22
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    @MattGutting OK, I can add a bit to that. The problem is, marriage isn't a romantic freedom. The question is a bit of a non sequitur and heavily inflicted with opinion ... even with its edits. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:28

Only those married have a right to sexual intercourse, which must be ordered to the procreation of children. This was clearly expressed in the 1917 Code of Canon Law:

1081 §2. Consensus matrimonialis est actus voluntatis quo utraque pars tradit et acceptat ius in corpus, perpetuum et exclusivum, in ordine ad actus per se aptos ad prolis generationem.

or, translated:

1081 §2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which each party gives and accepts perpetual and exclusive rights to the body, for those actions that are of themselves suitable for the generation of children.

Acts of sodomy (the unnatural vice) are intrinsic evils that can never be justified, regardless the circumstances; thus, no one can ever have a right to commit them.

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