When liberal-minded people attempt to debate the Roman Catholic Church on her various teachings, they always make the mistake of approaching the table with secular arguments, while the Roman Catholic Church is approaching the table with theological arguments. The disparate paradigms make fruitful debate impossible.

As a homosexual who is also a Roman Catholic, I often struggled with the her teaching on homosexual intercourse; the Roman Catholic Church does not teach that being a homosexual is a sin; rather, it is the act of intercourse between two persons of the same gender that is sinful.

The reason for this teaching is that, according to the Roman Catholic Church, the purpose of intercourse is twofold: procreation and bonding. As procreation can only occur between two people of opposite genders, homosexual intercourse is disordered, and therefore sinful.

As I continued to give thought to the matter, I recalled the Roman Catholic Church's teaching regarding birth control. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that artificial birth controlcondoms, the Pill, etc. – is sinful, but natural birth control – and here I do not mean the rhythm method, but rather the much more precise Dr. Billings' Method of Ovulation – is not. (An explanation of that area is another node entirely. Take it at face value for this node.) According to the Roman Catholic Church, a married couple can practice natural birth control, therefore not procreating, and therefore fulfilling only one of the two purposes of intercourse.

I brought this fact to bear on the teaching on homosexual intercourse. If two people of the same gender are in a loving, committed relationship, then their act of intercourse would fulfill one of the two purposes of said act, namely bonding, and therefore would not be commiting a sinful act.

I have used this argument with fellow Roman Catholics who are conservative-minded, and in the face of a theological justification, they find that their own argument against homosexual intercourse does not stand up.
I upvoted this and chinged it. Then I realized the flaw in it - you forgot to get married. If you are a straight unmarried couple who has lived together for years, you still can't "bond" by having sex. And, since the Roman Catholic Church has not allowed people of the same sex to get married, you're still screwed (or, rather, not screwed).

May I suggest changing to a religion that lets you do what you know is right without having to think about why the religious heirarchy might possibly allow it?

Illumina: No, because marriage is the driver, not the relationship or the sex. In the RCC, what marriages are allowed is determined (ultimately) by the Pope. The Pope gets his "info" from God and the Bible (or so they say). They try to avoid changing stuff, because then they have to interpret the words of previous Popes in twisted ways to avoid contradicting them (because of Papal Infallibility)

Zanth: Un-natural is a matter of opinion, frankly. Also, who says you can't split hairs over theology? That's half the fun! Although, the "possibility of offspring" thing brings up an interesting issue: Let's say a female fetus is genetically modified in utero to produce sperm and semen, and to excrete it upon orgasm. Let's further say that she lacks a uterus. Now, the fetus is born and grows into a woman, and she joins the RCC. Since she can produce offspring only with another woman, what would the RCC say to her marrying one?

I think the RCC actually has slightly different issues than those that you mention, but I won't press the issue...

mblase: The RCC does not interpret the Bible literally.

Myrmidion: Holy shit, that's clever. And, of course you aren't a Christian - that would be anachronistic, as Myrmidons were 1000 years before Jesus.
JDWActor: I'm sorry to inform you but your argument is flawed, not just in the absence of marriage in-and-of-itself, as this is obviously a prerequisite for sexual intercourse as dictated by the Catholic Church, but also in the fact that a married couple is only fulfilling one of the two purposes of the conjugal act.

Firsly, since homosexual intimate relationships are not considered valid relationships by the Roman Catholic Church and hence inelligble for marriage, the entire argument of validating homosexual relations is defunct.

Secondly, when considering the Billing's method, one must understand that the ONLY way to ensure that a pregnancy does not occur is ultimately by abstinence. The Billing's Method does advertise 99% efficacy but that 1% leaves LIFE in God's hands. One of the main purposes of marriage, and the Church would say THE main purpose is procreation; to bring up and teach children in the ways of Christ. One must remember that any sexual relations still allows for the possibility of pregnancy, however slight those chances may be. A pregnancy can still occur even during a woman's menstrual period, though the cases are very rare.

A homosexual relationship can never allow for the possibility of new life, and hence it does not fulfill the primary requirement of sexual intercourse. Although love is an important factor; it is secondary (albeit a very close second). The unitive principle of marriage expressed by the union of sexual love can of course continue after a woman no longer produces ovums or in the case of sterility of either person but that does not mean the possibility of "un-natural" unions under this natural order. A child is a gift, not a right, as indicated in the Catechism 2374 and in the stories of Rachel and Jacob and of Joachim and Anne. Thus to argue that infertile couples who love each other would equate to homesexual couples who love each other is erroneous.

Further, infertile couples are encouraged to pursue prayer for a child and permitted to accept "research aimed at reducing human sterility,..., on condition that it is placed at the service of the human person,...,according to the design and will of God." Catholic Catechism 2375. These latter methods are not available naturally to homesexual couples, unless third party donors are admitted, and this is against the teachings and designs of God.

Finally, sex is something that can be abused even in a marriage. Lust is not negated in a marriage, and sexual intercourse is not an absolute goodin a marrage. If couples are continually practicing the Billing's Method, never trying to have children, then they are in direct violation of God's will, the intentions of marriage and the promise they made to each other on their wedding day.

This is not meant as a sermon

but meant to enlighten one on the Roman Catholic stance on homosexual intimacy and that of heterosexual married couples. One can't split hairs with theology, a sin is a sin no matter how you look at it. It is the severity of the act that dictates the punishment. So, in the case of homosexuals acting out their sexual desires, this is considered a mortal sin, in the eyes of the Church.

novalis: Un-natural is not my word but the word of the RCC. My node is entirely the view of the Church, not once did I mention what I felt, believed in or agree with; my opinion is frankly quite irrelavant. I was just trying to shed some fact on the matter, what is listed in the Code of Canon Law and the Catechims of the Catholic Church. The references speak for themselves.

While I'm not a Catholic (Roman or otherwise), I always understood that homosexual intercourse was verboten in Christian doctrine because the Bible was very specific in this matter. To wit:

  • Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (ancient Jewish law)
  • Romans 1:26-27 - "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (The apostle Paul, referring to past humankind in general)

There are other verses, but the words interpreted there as "homosexual" or some equivalent are sometimes ambiguous translations. The above two are pretty specific, however: neither Old Testament nor New Testament doctrine left much room for misinterpretation. The argument that Paul's position only prohibits "unnatural" homosexuality presumes that there is such a thing as "natural" homosexuality, which is a completely different discussion altogether.

Of course, I'm given to understand that even oral sex (even by married couples) is frowned upon in strict Catholic doctrine. So I really don't see why the above should surprise or concern anyone.

/me slaps mblase. Haha! I can outgun you on biblical interpretation.

The two references you mention, Leviticus, and Paul's letter to the Romans, are the two major references used by Bible literalists to condemn homosexuality. Putting aside the fact that many Churches, including the Catholic one, don't pretend to interpret the Bible literally, there are MUCHO MAJOR dissenting interpretations on the Letter to the Romans.

Let's first lay aside the reference to Leviticus (it also contains prohibitions relating to eating pork, blood, etc). All Christians do this because Christ explicitly replaced the commandments of the Old Testament (or so it is interpreted). "Mandatum novum do vobis", a new commandment I give unto you, said Christ, love one another as I have loved you; so in this spirit let us examine Paul's Letter with:

John Boswell

John Boswell was a Catholic, and a former Jesuit priest (yes, one of the hardcore). For completeness, let me quote the appropriate part of the Bible:

"God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men committing indecent acts with men…"

John Boswell has this to say:

"the persons that Paul condemns are manifestly not homosexual: what he condemns are homosexual acts committed by heterosexual persons. The whole point of Romans 1, in fact, is to stigmatize persons who have rejected their calling, gotten off the true path they were once on. It would completely undermine the thrust of the argument if the persons in question were not 'naturally' inclined to the opposite sex in the same way they were 'naturally' inclined to monotheism. What caused the Romans to sin was not that they lacked what Paul considered proper inclination, but that they had them; they held the truth, but in unrighteousness because they did not see fit to retain him in their knowledge."

The argument espoused by Boswell rests on the word physin in Greek, interpreted as "nature", or "natural function" as in the the Bible bit above. In "What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality" by (Fr.) Daniel Helminiak, he mentions several other places that the word physin is used: in the Letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of those who are Gentiles by nature (physin), and in the older Greek: 'by nature' (physin) and the Gentiles act as is consistent with the kinds of persons they are...

Through this and other references, Helmeniak concludes that nature, (physin) refers to personal nature. This distinction is important because it means that "the immorality Paul condemns is not homosexual activity (but that of) purposefully suppressing ones nature".

Et Voila! You now have an (almost) spotless Bible vis a vis homosexuality.

May I say, I am no longer a Christian, and I certainly never believed in Biblical Literalism when I was one. Therefore the point is sort of moot.
In another totally related noted, John Boswell's major book is Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality published by the University of Chicago Press in 1980. He passed away in 1994 from complications related to AIDS.

Interestingly enough, he was cannonised by the Ecumenical Catholic Church, an organisation I know nothing about except it is probably another modern splinter Catholic church.

WolfDaddy: There is mentioned in many places "the other disciple," "another disciple," "that disciple whom Jesus loved," etc. in the Gospel of John. I have always understood that this is where John is referring to himself, humbly leaving out his own name, but still recording the true reference. More importantly, however is that the Greek word eros is not the word used, nor is it used anywhere in the Bible. This is agape love.

Yes, the Bible is open to interpretation, as is any literary work, but ultimately only one interpretation matters. If someone sends me an "artfully" constructed death threat, what difference does it make if I interpret it as an advertisement for lawn mowers? It may well not be possible to know 100% what the intended massage is, but if you're going to claim it doesn't matter, then why bother with the Bible at all? If you're only seeking to justify your beliefs and refuse to allow them to be shaped by what you find, you may as well use Shakespeare instead.


In the end I think you'll find it difficult to directly support any position on sex from the Bible, because the Bible is not about sex. Sure, there's sex in there, but that's not the primary theme. In fact, Mt 22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." So anyone focused primarily on sex would probably find themselves quite out of place in God's kingdom.

Unless you think the angels are just having one big orgy in heaven, in which case I can't help you...

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