A gentleman who calls me his friend, among other questions about the Church asked me: “Isn’t the Church’s teaching discriminatory against homosexuals?” Not at all.
The Church does not discriminate against homosexuals. It revolves around the distinction between homosexual activity and homosexual persons. First is the Church’s belief that Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. Under no circumstances can they be approved (Catechism, # 2357). The Church also insists, however, that men and women with same sex attractions are valued members of the human family and must be treated with the same respect and love as every other child of God. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Hatred, persecution, prejudices and ridicule of homosexuals is a grave sin and must always be treated as such.
The teaching of the Church does not intend to offend our homosexual brothers and sisters, and we recognize that for some individuals and their families, especially parents, questions of sexual identity and behavior can be very difficult and emotionally charged. To those individuals and their families we offer our sincere concern and prayerful support
As a society, however, we have to understand the possibility, sometimes the necessity, of loving and respecting their inappropriate or immoral behavior. Parents have to do that with their children once in a while.
What harm is done if the activity is between consenting adults? The fact that two adults consent to an action doesn’t make it morally right or socially acceptable. The “harm” is that such reasoning leads us down a very dangerous and permissive slope to the detriment of the common good and the spiritual impoverishment of the individuals involved. After all, two consenting adults can engage in drug use, prostitution, polygamy or other immoral activity. In other words, the determination of the morality of an action is found in the act itself and not in the consent of the people involved.
Same sex unions affect the family. We should recognize that in every culture and society throughout the ages traditionally defined marriage, as a stable union of one man and one woman, has been normative and has been given protection and respect. The definition of the family’s identity is a priority. Such marital and family stability does not only depend on the good will of concrete persons; it takes on an institutional character of public recognition by the State. The recognition, protection and promotion of this stability contribute to the general interest, especially of the weakest, that is the children.
In other simple terms, marriage as traditionally defined has always been a privileged institution, and that distinction should be recognized, preserved and applauded. Accepting other personal unions as equivalent to marriage undermines the special status afforded to marriage in every society and culture.
Examples of this point: in the classroom if all the students routinely get an “A” on their report card, the work of the real “A” student is devalued. In the Olympics, if everyone receives a gold medal, why bother competing? And if every intimate relationship between consenting adults is marriage, then marriage is nothing.
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC