There is much research going on
concerning the issue of homosexuality. We will improve on this page in the
future. Keep an eye on it!
Scriptural condemnation of homosexuality?
It looks as if homosexuality
has been denounced in both the Old and New Testaments.
The Hebrew story of Sodom and Gomorrah has
had much influence on Christian beliefs (Genesis 19,1-29). The story tells of
Gods destruction of this city as a punishment for homosexual practices.
See also Judges 19,1-30; Leviticus 18,22; 20,13-23).
In Romans 1,26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6,9-11
Paul condemned the homosexual excesses in the Graeco-Roman
In tradition, homosexuality was
called a sin against nature and was often put on a line with
bestiality, that is: having intercourse with an animal. For the
State it was a criminal offence, usually punishable by death. Note that our renewed, informed
understanding leads to a different evaluation of socalled
While softening the complete condemnation it
voiced in the past, the Vatican Congregation for Doctrine still opposes all
homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered because they cannot
lead to procreation.
The Congregation for
Doctrines Declaration on Certain Issues Concerning Sexual Ethics
(1974) was an improvement on earlier Roman statements because it acknowledged
that there are
homosexuals who are definitively such
because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged
to be incurable.
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 the Document still
condemns all sexual homosexual acts as intrinsically
disordered and condemned by Scripture as a serious
depravity (Paragraph no 8).
Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics by the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1975)
Homosexuality has always existed, but only in
our own time are we becoming more aware of its origins and implications. Here
we will quote some modern theologians discussing the issue.
God, the one who has made all of
creation, loves and cherishes all creatures without exception. And modern
psychology shows us that homosexual orientation is set by age five or six. Most
psychologists agree that it is not a matter of choice, whether orientation is
inborn as some think or acquired very early as others say. How then could an
all-loving God possibly violate Divine nature and regard homosexuals as
sinners? Contemporary biblical scholars are
indicating that the idea of homosexual orientation was unknown to the writers
of the Sacred Scripture. Certainly these authors had no knowledge of the Kinsey
research which established the existence of a continuum along which all of us
are somewhere between the end points of totally heterosexual through
bisexuality to exclusively homosexual. Many of the oft-quoted "condemnatory
passages" may assume that heterosexuals are acting out of their violation of
their nature. Sister Mary Ann Ford, Pastoral
When read at face value, the Scriptures
have nothing positive to say about homogenital behaviour. However, most
Christians do not interpret the Bible literally; they try to understand the
Scriptures in their historical and cultural context and see what meaning the
Scriptures have for us today. These Scriptures were written approximately 2000
or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality.
The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so
that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Since we
have come to know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as
heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality
were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual
expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific
knowledge and understanding. It is unfair of us to expect or
impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of
genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able
to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the
cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.
God has created people with romantic
and physical attractions to the same sex, as well as those with attractions to
the opposite sex. Many, if not most, people, we are now discovering, have both
kinds of attractions in varying degrees. All of these feelings are natural and
are considered good and blessed by God. These feelings and attractions are not
sinful. Most Catholic moral theologians now hold that homogenital behaviour, as
well as heterogenital behaviour, is good and holy in God's sight when it is an
expression of a special and unique love which one person has for another. Both
homosexual and heterosexual genital expression can be sinful if they are
manipulative, dishonest, or unloving actions. Sister Jeannine
Gramick, PhD, College of Notre Dame Maryland.
Catholicism uses four major sources for
principles and guidance in ethical questions like homosexuality: scripture,
tradition (theologians, church documents, official teachings, etc), reason, and
human experience. All are used in conjunction with one another. Scripture is
the fundamental and primary authoritative Catholic source -- but not the
only source. Biblical witness is taken seriously, but not literally.
An individual scriptural text must be understood in the larger context of the
original language and culture, the various levels of meanings, and the
texts applications to contemporary realities in light of the role of the
community's and its official leadership role in providing authoritative
interpretations. Both Jewish and Christian scriptures do speak negatively of
certain form of same-gender (generally male) sexual behaviour (not
same-gender love), especially when associated with idol worship, lust,
violence, degradation, prostitution, etc. Whether the Scriptures condemn all
and every form of same-gender sexual expression in and of itself for
all times, places and individuals is the topic of serious theological and
Biblical discussion and debate.
I do not believe that God regards
homosexuality as a sin if homosexuality means the psychosexual
identity of lesbians or gay persons, which we know from contemporary scientific
studies is within the boundaries of healthy, human psychological development,
and which seems to be as natural for some people as heterosexuality is for
others. If homosexuality means the emotional, intimate bonding in same-gender
relationships of love and friendship, I believe that since God is love, where
there is authentic love, God is present.
Where God is present, there can be no
sin. If homosexuality means same-gender erotic, physical expressions of union
and pleasure, the possibility of personal sin exists in homosexuality -- as it
does in heterosexuality -- depending on the interplay of three factors:
including (1) the physical behaviour itself and its meaning for the person, (2)
the personal motives and intents of the person acting, and (3) the individual
and social consequences or results of the behaviour. For many people, sexual
behaviour which is exploitative, coercive, manipulative, dishonest, selfish or
destructive of human personhood is sinful; for all people sin means
freely acting contrary to one's deeply held moral or ethical convictions,
whether these come from organized religion or a personally developed value
Same-gender expressions of
responsible, faithful love in a covenanted relationship between two truly
homosexually oriented people not gifted with celibacy is not something
envisioned by the Scriptures. Whether this form of homosexuality violates
biblical or anthropological principles of sexuality and personhood --
especially in the light of current scientific knowledge and human experience
about the homosexual orientation -- is a key issue facing the churches and
religious groups today. Father C Robert Nugent , co-editor
of The Vatican and Homosexuality, holds degrees from St Charles
College, St Charles Theologate, a degree in library science from Villanova
University and a Masters of Sacred Theology from Yale University Divinity
The Catholic Church is beginning to
rediscover what it once knew; that not all persons are heterosexual, that many
people are homosexual and that this is just fine. In the past, the Church
accepted homosexuality more openly and even had liturgies to celebrate same sex
unions.(1) There was a recognition that different sexual orientations are
clearly part of God's plan for creation-some people are heterosexual and some
are homosexual-this is the way God made us and we have no right to criticize
God. Wherever the human race is found we find persons of differing sexual
orientations. (We find the same thing in God's animal kingdom.) Human history
shows that some humans have same-sex attractions and unions and others have
opposite-sex attractions and unions. The desire to bond lovingly and sexually
with persons of the same sex or of the opposite sex, is a fact of life, a fact
of God's creation, and we have no right to call it unholy. As the Acts of
the Apostles says in the Bible, we have no right to declare unclean
anything that God has made (Acts of the Apostles 10:15). To do so, in
fact, is a sin.
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