Can two men or two women be in a relationship together without sin?

Example: a man is dating another man. They are celibate. Is this a sin?

Also, how does the Church define homosexual relations? Is this just gay sex? Or does this include a man recognizing someone as his boyfriend while living celibate?

Two men or two women engaged in a romantic relationship or dating would not be acting appropriately according to Church teaching.

Think about other disordered relationships. If a brother and sister were “just dating” but not having sex, would that be ok? Or what is a wife was “just dating” a male friend. Would that be ok with the Church or her husband?

As long as they are celibate it is not sin, IMO.

Yes it is a sin. Homosexual inclination is objectively disordered (CCC 2358). To encourage, perpetuate, and nourish a disorder is wrong. As is consenting to disordered sexual appetites and feelings. If we encourage these things in another person it is also a sin against charity.

Interesting question. I’m not sure that “being in a relationship” (whatever that really means) would necessarily be a is a sin in itself, but it would certainly qualify as an occasion of sin, and that should be avoided. Dating, or courtship, is meant to help decide if the people in question should get married. But that’s impossible if the two people are both of the same gender. So if it isn’t a sexual relationship, and they aren’t discerning a marital vocation, in what way can they be dating?

My friend (who is a guy) is in a relationship with another man. I still love him as a brother, but this whole situation is concerning me. They say that they are in a relationship, but also that there are no homosexual acts involved so it is okay… I am just concerned that this is putting them “on the near occasion of sin…”

He is also a big HRC supporter, which is a whole other issue, but I want to focus on this relationship that they are saying is celibate.

Hi pignat1:

The answer to the question appears to be no. From the Catechism, it appears that the sin is in the homosexual activity, not the mere attraction, which the Church itself admits that She does not understand. So long as they are celibate, they do not appear to be contradicting Church teachings. Here are the relevant passages, from the Vatican’s own Online catechism:

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

*“2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” * (emphasis mine)

Seeing as the persons you are referring to are living in chastity, I can’t see any problem here. It seems eminently reasonable that homosexual persons would seek each other out for mutual support and friendship, so long as they remain chaste. On the other hand, section 2358 does say that even the inclination itself (the attraction) is “disordered”. It would be interesting to explore exactly what they mean by this. It may be undefinable or indefinite (this happens in other places in the Catechism too, I think; it is left vague on purpose. To take another example, my wife and I are infertile, and the Catechism dances around this issue too, and in a rather obscure manner…it seems to want to say there’s something wrong with us, but stops short of calling us morally sinful/evil just because we are infertile. See paragraphs 2374-2379).

The real issue here is, what do you mean by “relationship”? There are an infinite number of types of relationships, everywhere from the mere acquaintance to intimate married love. The Catechism doesn’t seem to be willing to condemn them all, clearly; the only thing it does say here is that the homosexual activity is not permitted under any circumstances. But it’s impossible to condemn a chaste homosexual for simply being a chaste homosexual, especially as the Church admits that it does not understand the origins of this condition in the prior paragraphs.

Jacques

As I understand it, the call to chastity is more than just about saving sex until marriage, but is more of a respect for God’s will for sexuality, which would include relationships. It’s not “live chaste until marriage”, even married people are called to live chastely. They must remain committed to their spouse. A relationship between SSA persons would violate what the call to chastity entails, but would also put the two in the near occasion of sin and would be involved in the sin of scandal, because even though they claim to be celibate, there is nothing to keep those they know from truly knowing that, and is likely to cause scandal. The attraction between two people in a close relationship is a sexual attraction, making it a sexually driven relationship, even though they are not having sex.

Hi bzkoss:

I think I see what you are getting at, and I think I agree, but on the other hand, I’m not sure that all relationships have to fall under the aegis of God’s will for sexuality. Clearly single people (of either sex) can form deep and intimate relationships with others, and indeed should be encouraged to form such friendships, for mutual support and understanding. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having female friends, though I am male; nor with my wife having male friends, which she does. One could argue that this is a “near occasion of sin”, I suppose (though at our advanced ages this is a bit risible), or that it could cause scandal (indeed anything can cause scandal to somebody, I suppose; in that way, scandal is rather like offense. Potentially anything could be offensive if the audience is large enough. We would end up not saying anything at all, for fear that someone would be offended. The Politically Correct crowd run amok). It seems to me to be despair (the sickness unto death, as Kierkegaard says) to end up in the position of saying that a single man and woman cannot become close or intimate friends, because, after all, what would people think? and, wouldn’t they be tempted to sin? Nor can two single homosexual men, or two single women…after all, there’s always the possibility of temptation. We would end up with a sort of “hermit” philosophy where we end up living apart and solitary for our own spiritual journey (there’s a place for that in Catholic teaching I think, and it has a long and illustrious history, but I think it’s a small place, and not commonplace).

I guess my position is that the class of things called “relationships” is huge and not very well defined; but the subset of those types of relationships that are erotic/sexual is a much smaller and restricted set. Those relationships are governed by God’s plan for sexuality, but the rest are not, as they were intended for other purposes (mutual support, say).

Jacques

There is a difference between strong friendships and romantic relationships. What you depict is men having strong lasting friendships with women. Men can have the same with other men, homosexual or not. But what this question implies is a romantic relationship between two men who are not having sex. Since it is a romantic relationship, it is fueled by a sexual attraction. I’m not saying that all that is involved in a romantic relationship is the mutual sexual attraction, but it is the factor that separates a strong friendship and a romantic relationship.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

From the Catechism. If the couple is dating or romantically involved, they are not in a disinterested friendship. Not to mention the sin of giving scandal.

Being a “couple” is not an option.

Anymore that my going out on a date with a woman other than my wife is an option. I am a married man and I cannot date another. And I cannot be form a couple with a woman even if I am not engaging in any other sexual sin.

Dating and being a couple is something regarding persons of the opposite sex who are free to marry.

Chaste and virtuous friendships with various persons (avoiding near occasions etc) is a different matter and one full of life.

I think an important issue to address, here, is a deeper application of the meaning of sexuality.

We can begin to ask questions, “what is sexual?” Is kissing or holding hands objectively “sexual”? I would hope not as children do this with parents and siblings.

But, this is not to say that kissing or holding hands is objectively “not sexual,” either! Our sexuality has to do with the way in which we interact with each other, in words, active thoughts, and deeds. Attraction may be something that is, on first interaction, insurmountable.

For example, male martyrs who attempted to resist when women were sent to seduce them. Some even bit off their own tongues while attempting to distract themselves while they were literally tied down and being tempted. Does this mean they intended to sin in mutilation or sin in being tempted, certainly not. I don’t think that the intent was to self-mutilate, and being tempted is not a sin, in itself. And, neither of these would even be questions if there were not obvious attraction.

But, what is happening? While the martyrs obviously showed heroic virtue, they are often, for us, exemplars for those virtues. What was the pre-disposition of the martyrs (pre-dispositions they nurtured and season with their own habits and faith, via the grace of God)? This is tied directly into their sexuality. While they are sexually attracted (which is what enabled them to be tempted), they did not foster, NOR allow to be aroused, their passions, illicitly.

So, when we used the word dating, is this in its regular meaning (including a “possessing” of the other person, as has become a rampant meaning in the secular culture)? Or is this a word they used so that they get left alone by others (the old “my best guy friend appears to be my boyfriend so other guys leave me alone” situation)?

John was the disciple that Jesus loved deeply. We should not judge anyone’s intentions, IMHO

Well, I think that it is near or is factually impossible to certainly know someone’s intentions without having a charism to know minds or hearts.

That being said, I firmly believe we ought to provide enough information that a person can duly examine their own actions, intentions, and impulses, for themselves, in good conscience.

Being a “couple” is not an option.

“Two persons of the same gender” dating one another or being in a “relationship”.

Anymore that my going out on a date with a woman other than my wife is an option. I am a married man and I cannot date another. And I cannot be form a couple with a woman even if I am not engaging in any other sexual sin.

Dating and being a couple is something regarding persons of the opposite sex who are free to marry.

Chaste and virtuous friendships with various persons (avoiding near occasions etc) is a different matter and one full of life.

Friendship – even where the two persons who are homosexual-- is possible (avoiding scandal and near occasions etc). But that is friendship – not a “romantic relationship”

Catechism:

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#II

I have a date to go to dinner with my grandson every week, I have a date to talk to my doctor this afternoon . Jesus have mercy.

Not the same as a romantic date.

But you would never say you were “dating” your grandson or your doctor, would you?

Nope. Good point!!!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.