The Truth About Homosexuality is Compassionate



Forward by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

Questions Addressed

Sample Chapter

Chapter 3: Homosexuality and God’s Plan

The next meeting took place two weeks later. Although Jeremy was still adamant that the Church was unjust in condemning homosexuality, he felt drawn to Father JP’s compassionate response: it both attracted him and filled him with a certain trepidation.

In seeking backing for his position, Jeremy convinced BillyLu that he needed help in defending homosexuality as a human rights issue. Although BillyLu agreed to take on the challenge, she balked at that idea of meeting at Father JP’s church. At Father JP’s suggestion, they decided to meet at a local pizza parlor, one that BillyLu frequented. Sam also brought along his girlfriend, Margie. Everyone began by ordering soft drinks, until BillyLu ordered a strong, dark beer. Father JP ordered the same, to everyone else’s surprise.

Jeremy: BillyLu, I’m sure JP would like to know something about who you are before we begin, why don’t you start by telling us your story…

BillyLu: So you all can psychoanalyze me? No thanks. I don’t need any shrink telling me why I think the way I do.

Father JP: BillyLu, we’re here to continue a discussion Sam, Jeremy, and I started a few weeks ago. Sam and Jeremy thought you had a lot you could add to the discussion. Perhaps they were afraid they couldn’t keep up with the Church…

Sam: JP, that’s a bit smug, don’t you think?

Father JP: Oh, I was just joking. We shouldn’t go around taking ourselves too seriously.

BillyLu: So what was the hot topic you discussed last time?

Jeremy: Basically, we discussed what the Bible says about homosexuality. JP defended the traditional interpretation that the Bible condemns us gays and lesbians.

BillyLu: So, what’s new? Fundamentalism has been around for centuries and I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of it. So, if the Bible is your God then just go and worship it, but please leave the rest of us alone.

Father JP: BillyLu, I’m a Catholic Christian; this is my belief. And, by the way, we do not worship the Bible; that would be just another form of idolatry. We worship God and believe what he has revealed. Not that I always fully understand the logic of God’s Word and Love. Sometimes I too must wrestle with it to try to make sense of it. But I believe it not because it makes sense, but because I love God and have chosen to believe his Word.

We Catholic Christians do believe that God has revealed that any sexual activity outside of marriage is an offense against him, our Creator. You may not believe it, and certainly I will not force you to believe it. However, I ask you to treat it with respect, otherwise there can be no dialogue.

BillyLu: But then I expect you to treat me and my beliefs with the same respect, that sex between any committed couple—whether heterosexual or homosexual—is just as holy as sex in any Christian marriage. I’m not Catholic; I never was Catholic; and I will never, ever become one. Are you willing to respect that?

Father JP: I will respect you and love you just as you are. I commit myself to respecting your freedom to follow your conscience and will do all in my power not to humiliate you or berate anything you believe, even if your beliefs are contrary to my own. I consider your conscience sacred.

BillyLu: Oh, yeah…? My lesbian conscience…?

BillyLu hesitated for a moment…

Well, OK… I guess I can live with that.

It was good timing, as the waiter showed up with the drinks and took the order for pizza.

Can We Say That Homosexuality is Intrinsically Disordered?

Sam: So, JP what does the Church teach about homosexuality? From what I gather, it sees homosexuals as intrinsically disordered.

Father JP: Sam, I think both Jeremy and BillyLu would find that offensive.

BillyLu: You bet I do! You bet I do! That’s just the kind of hate-speech that makes so many gay kids commit suicide.

Father JP: Well, that statement is not Catholic or even Christian. So, you don’t hate the Catholic Church or Christianity but a false picture of it. By the way, I also hate that picture because it is utterly false and cruel.

Margie: But Father JP, I was just reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church to prepare myself for this gathering, and I remember it clearly saying that homosexuality is “objectively disordered” (cf. CCC 2358). I think that is one of the reasons why BillyLu and Jeremy have such a negative picture of the Church. I mean, I would find it offensive if the Catholic Church said it was “objectively disordered” to be attracted to a Jewish man.

Margie turns her gaze from BillyLu to Sam, her Jewish boyfriend.

Father JP: But what are you talking about when you say homosexuality? Are you referring to the person? Are you referring to erotic sexual acts between persons of the same sex? Are you referring to the inclination to those acts? Does homosexuality refer to the attraction that a person may have toward another person of the same sex?

I am absolutely certain that is why there is so much misunderstanding about the Church and homosexuality: the same term can refer to very different realities: to a certain group of persons; to the performance of certain kinds of acts; to the inclination to perform such acts; or to the attraction of one person to another.

BillyLu: Obviously, homosexuality ultimately refers to persons who are homosexuals, to those who are gay or lesbians.

Father JP: If that is the case, BillyLu, then the Church teaches that homosexuals are intrinsically good.

Persons Are Intrinsically Good

At this point, Father JP brought out his Catechism of the Catholic Church for reference, 

as the conversation continued.

Jeremy: How can we be intrinsically good when the Catechism says that we are “objectively disordered,” as Margie pointed out?

Father JP: Jeremy, because it is the person—whether homosexually inclined or not—who is intrinsically good. The great dignity of the human person is inviolable. The Catechism of the Catholic Church develops this at great length, as every human person has been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27, 5:1-2):

The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (CCC 1700).
The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the union of the divine persons among themselves (CCC 1702).
We all received that great dignity at the moment we came into being—even before that, since “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). And our freedom is an “outstanding manifestation of the divine image” (CCC 1705).

The dignity of being made in God’s image and likeness, of being free, can be disfigured by sin (CCC 1701), but it cannot be totally rubbed out or lost even by the slavery to sin.

Margie: So, the Catechism is telling us that every human being, whether male or female, whether a sinner or a saint, whether gay, lesbian, or straight, is loved by God and endowed with unspeakable dignity?

Father JP: That’s a very succinct and accurate summary of the Catechism.

Margie: Then us Catholics should love BillyLu and Jeremy as God does, with a special affection because of their lofty dignity as children of God.

Father JP: You’ve got it, Margie.

Sin Is Intrinsically Disordered

Sam: If it isn’t the person, then what does the Church call intrinsically and objectively “disordered,” JP?

Father JP: Ultimately, anything that harms our relationship with God and our noble relationships with others would be a disorder—in other words, sin.

The Catechism makes that pretty clear:

There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it (CCC 1761).

Jeremy: So, what you are saying is that it is not persons who are disordered, but the sins they may commit.

Margie: And so we are called to love the sinner—who is intrinsically good—and hate the sin—which is intrinsically evil.

Father JP: You are both correct. That is why all persons are good in themselves despite their sin, which is—by definition—a disordered act.

BillyLu: But the Catholic Church is singling out homosexual sex as particularly disordered. Our sex is the worse of all evils, so it must be eradicated by eradicating us homosexuals.

Father JP: Not really, BillyLu, for many particular sins are described as disordered, and such sins are conquered by God’s grace and our struggle—not by eradicating sinners.

For example:

There are some concrete acts—such as fornication—that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil (CCC 1755).

So, fornication—sex between individuals who are not married—is also a disordered action. We could list other sins, such as unjust divorce:

Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society (CCC 2385).

Sam: It seems like you are saying that the disorder is the repercussion that moral decisions have on people and relationships.

Father JP: That is a great observation. All our actions, even our thoughts, our looks, our failure to act, etc., can greatly impact our relationships to God and to people.

Jeremy: Like that guy who walks into the telephone pole while checking out a hot chick… Sam told me about that analogy.

Father JP: That’s right, Jeremy. If a girl catches her boyfriend lusting over another woman, it can be history for him. For this reason the Church condemns pornography and masturbation with clarity and force:

Both… the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action (CCC 2352).

Jeremy: That seems kind of harsh, JP. Doesn’t the Church realize that people—especially young kids—may not be able to control themselves? Certainly, masturbation doesn’t hurt anybody.

Father JP: In the same paragraph, the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, although the act is intrinsically disordered, the particular person may not be guilty of sin or morally responsible for that action:

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability (CCC 2352).

So, you are correct, Jeremy, that an individual may not have any guilt, but the disorder lies in the lack of control. As the boy or girl grows older and has a serious relationship—he or she is married, for example—such activity as masturbation or pornography—when discovered by the other spouse can gravely harm or even destroy a relationship.

Jeremy: If my boyfriend caught me masturbating, my Tommy would just laugh or join in.

Margie: You must be kidding! I know how offended I would be if I were married to Sam and learned that he was doing porn and masturbating. It would be a real slap in the face… as though I wasn’t good enough for him.

Look at this way, Jeremy, what if your Tommy caught you with a woman or another guy instead?

BillyLu: That’s what happened to me…

BillyLu said this very matter-of-factly. The rest turned to see if she would finish her thought; 

Margie especially wanted to hear more and her body language communicated to BillyLu 

that it was safe to go on; moments later she continued:

 Yeah, my husband caught me in bed with my girlfriend. My husband and I didn’t have much of a relationship anyway, and that ended the little we had. But our fictitious relationship was much more of a sin than anything Leslie and I had going on.

BillyLu left it at that. She wasn’t ashamed of what had happened but also didn’t want to 

continue with her story. So, Jeremy interrupted the silence by calling the 

waiter over to order a beer for himself. Sam also needed one at this point.

Margie: OK, Father, mortal sins are disordered. I think we get that. But isn’t God a forgiving God?

Father JP: Yes, Margie, he is. He reveals himself like a Father, the Father of the prodigal son who wasted all his inheritance on disordered conduct. But the Father welcomes his son back, running to him when he sees him at a distance, and smothers him with love and affection (cf. Luke 15:11-32). God wants to do that with each one of us.

Margie: But, isn’t God a nurturing mother, too?

Father JP: Although revelation sometimes portrays God with maternal perfections (CCC 370), comparing his love with a mother’s love (Isaiah 66:13), much more often it reveals to us that the Church is our mother. She is nurturing and full of affection. She should welcome the repentant sinner, often reassuring the sinner and making it safe for him to return to the Father and receive his love.

Margie: But we are all sinners. Doesn’t that mean that we all have disordered inclinations and actions? What about our small sins, are they disordered too?

Father JP: Even small sins—what the Catholic Church calls venial sins—consists in a disorder that harms one’s relationship with God:

Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods… Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin.
However venial sin does not… break the covenant with God (CCC 1863).
Venial sin constitutes a moral disorder that is reparable by charity (CCC 1875).

Thus, as you said, we all are inclined to disordered action. But, as the U.S. Catholic bishops state:

It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church.

Are Homosexual Acts Disordered?

BillyLu: JP, let’s cut to the chase. What you are really getting at is that homosexuality is disordered. We’re disordered, subhuman slime in your eyes. We already knew that coming in.

Father JP: I can see that you are hurt by what I am saying. But I ask you to trust me in this: I care a lot about you and Jeremy, just as I do Sam and Margie. I want you to be truly happy, in fact, I want to spend eternity with you all in heaven. I hope in heaven we will be able to all enjoy a good beer, pizza, and friendly conversation like this and not have to worry about going back to work in the morning.

Jeremy: But BillyLu is right, JP, doesn’t the Catholic Church consider homosexuality disordered?

Father JP: Remember, persons as persons are never disordered, but always loved by God. Thus, if God loves and respects a person then all other human beings are called to love that person, whether a saint or sinner.

Now the Church considers sexual relations between persons of the same-sex as disordered and sinful, just as it does any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Margie, would you mind reading to us what the Catechism says on homosexuality?

Margie: No, not at all, Father JP. Here we go… it says:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Cf. Genesis 19:1-29; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10), tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”… They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (CCC 2357).

Jeremy: Why does the Church have to single us out?

Father JP: The Church is not singling out homosexual acts. In the sections on sexual morality—on the sixth and ninth Commandments (6th: CCC 2331-2400; 9th: CCC 2514-2533)—the Catechism describes homosexual sins as just one sin among many. In fact, of the one hundred plus paragraphs, more than seventy paragraphs focus on the positive aspects of sexual morality.

Of the paragraphs describing sexual sins, eleven paragraphs deal with sins against chastity (such as, lust, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, erotic entertainment, moral permissiveness, impure looks) and fourteen paragraphs deal with sins against marriage (such as, adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, child abuse, trial marriage, and living together). Only two paragraphs deal with the sin of homosexual sex, with the later paragraph listing it among several others.

In other words, homosexual sex is certainly disordered: it can kill one’s relationship with God and hurt other relationships, as well. But you cannot say that it is singled out as more deviant than these others. In fact, divorce is condemned at much greater length than any of these other sins.

Margie: So, the Catechism is saying to us that all sinful activity is disordered—not just homosexual tendencies—and because of that no human being can ever be considered slime, or “trash.”

Is the Inclination Disordered?

Sam: Good point, Margie. But, JP, although you mention that homosexual acts are considered disordered, I also thought that the gay and lesbian inclination was considered an objective disorder, whether or not it is acted upon. Is that true?

Father JP: The Catholic Church considers anything that would incline a person to disorder as a disorder too. Thus passions (strong emotional drives) can be either upright or disordered:

Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices (CCC 1768).

Thus if one had a strong emotional drive for sex with children or for drugs, it would be a disordered passion since it would incline the person toward disordered behavior that would hurt him and others.

Jeremy: But sometimes one is born with such desires. They are innate. It would be unnatural for a person just to ignore those inborn desires.

Father JP: Are your saying that if one has an inborn desire to have sex with children that he should just give in to such desires.

Jeremy: No, no, JP. That’s different. You are harming an innocent person as a result.

Father JP: So, what makes a particular behavior disordered is not the fact that it may have arisen from an inborn desire but that it may harm an innocent person. If one has strong desires for some behavior that is disordered, then the desires are also disordered.

The Catholic Church says the same thing about ignorance. If a person is too young to know that something is wrong—like masturbation—then that ignorance may mean he is not responsible for the action because it is outside his control. However, the ignorance itself “remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience” (CCC 1793).

BillyLu: OK, JP, we get it. You are saying that the homosexual inclination is an objective disorder because homosexual sex is a disorder. It’s not too hard to figure that out.

Father JP: Yes, BillyLu, you got it. Because “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2357), then “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” are “objectively disordered” (CCC 2358). But the Catechism goes on to say:

This… constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity (CCC 2358).

 So, the person is never disordered and must always be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

BillyLu: But we don’t want your f---ing compassion, we want to be treated as normal. You treat us as some kind of sick-o’s. Everything about us is “disordered.”

Margie: BillyLu, you seemed hurt by what Father JP just said. I know I would be too if others seemed to be condescending or patronizing toward me.

BillyLu: That’s right, Margie. I hate it when people look down on me as though I’m some kind of helpless paraplegic.

Margie: But, there are times when I have felt like I was being bullied by some S.O.B. but I became quite grateful when someone came to my defense and told the jerk to back off and treat me with respect and compassion. I think that is what Father JP was intending to do.

Father JP: I’m sorry, BillyLu. I did not intend to offend you or to be patronizing. I’m trying to present this teaching in such a way that you see that the Church does not try to marginalize you or anyone.

Sam: But don’t you think it is unfair, JP, that the Church points out homosexual inclinations as disordered whereas other disordered desires and inclinations are never mentioned?

Father JP: But they are indeed mentioned, Sam. For example, lust:

Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes (CCC 2351).

Lust is disordered, whether it is directed toward someone of the same sex or of the opposite sex. The problem is that very few people think lust is a sin at all.

Jeremy: That is true. How can you watch TV today without being bombarded with arousing images? But I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

Margie: Sam, I hope you don’t feel that way, do you?

Sam: No, Margie…

Father JP: But even a greedy lust for money is considered a disordered desire and inclination:

The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order (CCC 2424).

BillyLu: Well, that’s all fine and good, JP. It is easy for you to say that this is a disordered desire. But, JP, you’ve never felt this way.

Margie: I can assure you that probably none of us have felt the way you do, BillyLu. Even Jeremy’s feelings are quite different from yours.

Father JP: BillyLu, I could never feel exactly like you do. But nor have I felt like so many others who I try to understand, encourage, and guide. For example, I have never felt so angry that I could kill someone. If I did, would that make it right? We may not control our feelings but we are responsible for controlling our behavior. That is the real point the Church is trying to make.


Chapter 4: “But God Made Me This Way”

The pizza came, which briefly distracted the conversation. As each commented on the platters, it allowed people to catch their breath and digest the conversation that had just ended. It wasn’t long, however, before BillyLu restarted the conversation.

BillyLu: How can homosexuality be a sin? Sin is something you choose.

Jeremy: Yeah, one doesn’t choose to be straight, gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual. It’s just who we are. So, it can’t be a sin.

BillyLu: I’m not surprised that the Church condemns homosexuality, since the Church has been condemning all forms of sexuality, except to produce babies in marriage. The Church condemns sex before marriage—but that’s not biblical. The Church condemns masturbation, petting, passionate kissing, and living with someone before marriage—all of this is not biblical. The Church even condemns birth control in marriage—tell me where that is in the Bible!

Jeremy: What the Church is really saying is that sex is evil… 

[Purchase the book and read the rest of the story].