Back in high school when I was a teenager I began listening to the music of Elton John. He was a popular artist in the 70’s and still is today. It was sometime later in his life—after a failed marriage attempt with a woman—that he announced to the world that he is a “gay” male. He has since made it a point to openly admit his sexual preference for men and even to legalize his committed relationship with another man.
I bring this up because of the step that was taken by New York State recently in legalizing committed homosexual relationships. I purposely avoid using the word marriage as many might use because of the specific meaning given to Christian marriage by the Church.
A working definition of a Christian marriage that I have taught for many years is this: Marriage is a covenant of love and life made by a man and a woman that is permanent, exclusive and open to the possibility of children. For two baptized Christians, it is also a sacrament.
While I understand the need for friendship, companionship and love in everyone’s life—gay or straight, single or married, male or female, religious or lay—we have to look at the long-term implications of certain actions that might be included with these various relationships.
The genital expression of love has a specific purpose as ordained by the author of life—God Himself. Genital acts have a twofold purpose which cannot be separated: love-making and life-giving. The situation becomes problematic with artificial contraception, homosexual sexual acts, masturbation, etc. because all of these acts have a sterility attached to them—whether deliberately intended or not. Sexual gratification is intended by the Creator to be pleasurable but not to be sterile. It is expressed simply in the Hebrew Scriptures this way: “Be fertile and multiply.” (Gn. 1:28)
In philosophy classes we were taught to examine and analyze an object completely to determine its intended purpose. For example, if we examine an ordinary pencil, we can (and should) conclude that it is made as an object with its intended purpose being a tool for writing. Sure we can use the pencil to stir something, to point at something or even to poke someone’s eye out (ouch!), but its intended purpose is to enable us to write something.
This type of analytical process is applicable to our bodies and our genitalia. In a homosexual act, the genitalia are not used in the manner in which they were intended by the Creator—bluntly, the parts do not fit properly—and the final result, while perhaps pleasurable, is painfully sterile and empty.
Everyone needs love, healthy chaste relationships, and companionship/friendship throughout life. While I do not claim to know the reason for homosexual attraction—is a person born this way or does he/she become this way?—I must conclude that the homosexual genital expression of love is both painfully sterile and an empty act. The Church considers these actions disordered and sinful.
Pastorally, I always attempt to condemn the sin, not the sinner. I cannot control what anyone does in or out of the bedroom. God gave us an intellect and free-will to determine our actions. I can, however, preach the truth as revealed in Sacred Scripture and taught by the Magisterium of the Church and try to prevent people from getting seriously hurt by what they do. I have always concluded that God knows best in these situations even when our limited human minds fail to see all of the implications of our actions.
I want people to be genuinely happy and to have committed relationships in life. However, these relationships, to follow God’s design, must be chaste and life-giving. For all of us—including those with homosexual tendencies—following the Gospel will be a challenge, perhaps even a cross.
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is never sterile. It always gives life—eternal life.
Fr. Ed NamiotkaPastor