Homosexuality is a tricky subject to tackle. It is so sensitive that people of all orientations can be offended, even when no offence is intended. But I take my chance because it is important to develop our understanding, through discussion.
The Catholic Catechism, while insisting that we should be courteous and respectful in all situations, condemns homosexual acts as inherently evil. They are, in short, a violence against God’s creation of human nature in terms of gender. And this application of natural law is fortified by strong references in Scripture. Perhaps a more clement account would speak in terms of a mismatch (rather than a disorder) between sexual orientation and gender – in this instance easily inferred from the structures of sexual biology.
The cause of this mismatch is hard to pin down in any particular case. It may result from genes, or from irregular hormones in pregnancy, or in upbringing. Or, perhaps a combination of such causes. And, notwithstanding the verdict drawn from biological structures, the homosexual may claim that it is natural to him or her.
However we should expect that a mismatch, innocent or otherwise, would provide difficulties. For instance we know that homosexuals have a higher rate of promiscuity, which is accompanied by a higher level of infection. We might also want to argue that a homosexual couple lack the complementarity of the two genders, and are therefore prone to being unsatisfactory parents. Similarly, homosexual couples would find it difficult to maintain stable, long term, relationships. But it is hard to know whether promiscuity is inherent, or comes about because of the disapproval of society. We simply don’t know whether the children of homosexuals are in fact disadvantaged, nor how stable formally married homosexual partners may turn out to be. We will have better statistics in a decade of two; but such early indications as I have seen do not support these criticisms.
Scripture is certainly clear about the condemnation of homosexuality (visit http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-homosexuality/ for a quick overview. But then we remember that Scripture must be taken in the context of the time. It was assumed that homosexual activity was an expression of rampant carnal lust. Does that really include that same-sex couple, around the corner. who have lived together in a loving, and sexual, relationship for twenty years? Don’t walk too close to their house, you may get hit by the brimstone of God’s fury.
The older I get the more I think we have got morality wrong. We start off by making laws: this is wrong, this is right, this is mortal, this is venial. But surely we should start with love – and then try to identify the how we promote and how we damage love. Of course we will formulate some principles to which we must attend, but these are the servants of love not the masters. Our question must be: is this the loving thing to do? I think we might get some different answers.