Need Cathechism clarification


Sorry if this is not the correct category to place this. I currently am researching both pro-gay and anti-gay biblical verses and interpretations. Naturally, I started with the catechism on homosexuality (2357). I need clarification on a statement and, no offense to my fellow “amateur” Catholics, but I think I may need a qualified church theologian to answer this. The church’s explanation of homosexual activities states… “They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.” Both of these expressions are loaded with possibilities. I would appreciate any clarification of these two somewhat ambiguous remarks. Thanks.


The idea is that man was created in the image and likeness of God. This means that we can share in his ability to create. Man and woman are incomplete of themselves for the transmission of life, and so to express the life-giving love that mirrors the image of God, each needs the other as a compliment, to complete the singular biological unity that can give life. Human sexuality is ordered (we might also say intended or designed) toward man and woman coming together in this union, expressing a love so profound that it gives life to another human being.

To perform any act which uses our sexuality for anything other than expressing that life-giving love in the permanent, exclusive, and fruitful union between spouses is not rightly ordered. Homosexual acts, since they necessarily lack the complimentarity between male and female, then, cannot be ordered toward that life-giving love. They fall short of what our bodies were designed for, and thus can only really be a means for pleasure.

Hope this helps. I am curious as to how you think that phrase is ambiguous.



Go to Genesis - the sixth day. “Male and female He made them”

Very clear.

Our culture tries to cloud our thinking.


Your entire response is appreciated, but it does not seem to explain the two expressions italicized in my post. You have spoken of the obvious - that male and female are needed for procreation. But there is a problem there… “To perform any act which uses our sexuality for anything other than expressing that life-giving love in the permanent, exclusive, and fruitful union between spouses is not rightly ordered.” But doesn’t this also apply to Natural Family Planning in which, through timing of the woman’s reproductive cycle, the man and woman are having sex with no chance of conceiving life?

This is meant to preserve sexual intercourse while preventing pregnancy. It does, as the catechism says, “Closes the sexual act to the gift of life.” Why is unproductive sex among a man and a woman acceptable, but not amongst two men or two women?


Because those people are still allowing God to work through them if they so choose. Look at Abraham and Sarah, or Zachariah and Elizabeth


God cannot work through a gay couple? Is there no other motive that God may have by working through someone other than childbirth?


No, but the couple is conforming to His will concerning human sexuality. Its within the realm of possibility that they could reproduce.


That’s what “affective complementarity” means. So, yeah… he kinda did address the terms. :wink:

From the Catechism:

Sexual complementarity, of course, speaks to being created “male and female.”

No, it’s not a problem. Notice that it’s not the case that there’s “no chance of conceiving life”. Rather, they’re doing nothing to prevent conception! However, they’re using their sexual facility in a way that’s completely consistent with the way their bodies work!

No, it doesn’t do that! The act itself is still open to the gift of life. However, the way the human body works, not every act of intercourse results in conception. That doesn’t mean that an act ordered toward conception is sinful when conception does not result.

First of all, because they’re not married (as the Church understands marriage).

Second of all, because their sexual acts can never result in conception.


Of course He can. But not as a marital couple, as such.

In the context of marriage? Procreation is one of the ends of marriage. How can we claim that a marriage between two men or two women – which, by its very nature, is incapable of fulfilling the ends of marriage – is a means by which God works through them?


Marriage is defined as a bond between a man and a women in the Bible.


I have read all of your replies, but will comment here. This is all too shallow. First of all, I am not arguing marriage in any form. The problem seems that people are playing the “procreate” card too easily. But I refuse to believe that straight married couples have sex only when they desire to procreate. You and I know this is not true. Thus, sexuality or sexual activities are not wholly constrained to childbirth. I agree that the general psychological approach is that through marriage and childbirth, the marriage and the participants reach a goal or higher level of being.

But the phrases I question in my original post seems to say that because two males or two females have the same bodies, no genuine affection or emotion of love can be produced… or, that even if they have a heart-felt, mind-felt and even a spiritual love for each other, the moment they touch intimately, it becomes defiled. But this is totally unacceptable to me for it subjugates the spirt to the physical; even by he merest physical touch.


Fair enough, but you’re missing the context of the Catholic teaching, then. Romantic love – and physical expressions of it – belong, in a Catholic context, in the institution of marriage. So, if you’re asking the question of ‘sex’, the Catholic response will necessarily be ‘marriage’.

That’s because that, once we identify that we’re in the context of marriage, the question arises, “what are the ends of marriage?”. One of these is procreation. If procreation is, by nature, impossible, then marriage cannot exist. (Note that this is quite different than procreation which by nature is possible but, due to medical conditions, might not take place.)

No one is saying this, and this is not the position of the Church, either. However, the Church does say that licit marital relations must always be open to the possibility of procreation and may not seek artificial means to block it. NFP is one example of a way to be open to the possibility of procreation. It also does nothing artificial to hinder it.

True. But, they must also allow for the possibility of conception. Homosexual relations, by their very nature, cannot result in conception. That presents a distinct problem, in the context of Catholic moral theology.

No, that’s not true, and we’ve demonstrated to you that this is not what that phrase means.

However, it does mean that since there is no marital relationship, there can be no licit physical expression of sexuality.

Not ‘subjugation’. Rather, it shows the unity of body and soul; we do not do things spiritually that do not affect us physically, and vice versa.


I think you’re reading far too much into this rather simple statement.

Male and female are ordered toward complimenting one another, and this complementarity is ordered toward procreation. In other words, that’s how male and female are put together and why they’re put together that way.

Male and male cannot authentically compliment each other, physiologically or affectively.

Female and female cannot authentically compliment each other, physiologically or affectively.

This is not to say that two men or two women cannot possibly or morally have any kind of relationship with one another, nor that there can’t be some degree of affective complementarity, that is, complimenting one another at the level of the emotions. I am a very extroverted male, and most of my close friendships are with people–both men and women–who are very introverted. But here, the catechism is talking of a deeper kind of complementarity–one that is only possible within the intimate union between man and woman.

The Catechism does not say that because two men and two women have the “same bodies” that there can be “no genuine affection or emotion of love.” It’s simply saying that authentic love between two men or two women can never be the same thing as the kind of love between a man and a woman. We’re just not built that way. Two men or two women together can never express the kind of love that gives life to another person. And when you say “can God not work between two men or two women?” I counter with the fact that God cannot contradict his own nature–he willed to design and create our bodies in the manner that he did. It would not be a miraculous display of his power to make a man pregnant, nor to have a woman impregnate. It would be contrary to the way he had designed things. This is not a lack in God, for to contradict his own nature would fall short of his perfection.



I assume by your sign off you are a priest. “Male and female are ordered toward complimenting one another, and this complementarity is ordered toward procreation. In other words, that’s how male and female are put together and why they’re put together that way.” I disagree. Physically and sexually, this is true where procreation is concerned. But men and women are not so suitable mentally, psychologically, or emotionally. This is why we have coined the phrase ‘The battle of the sexes." Their personalities and psyche’ have a tendency to grate against each other. This is why there is such a high divorce rate. In spite of the many “natural” benefits of men and women marrying and experiencing childbirth, they often times end up hating each other, arguing severely, divorcing, stalking and even at times killing each other.

The catechism expressions of “genuine affective” and “sexual complementarity” is not easy to understand. “Complementarity” was originally a quantum physics expression. i.e. a particle cannot be a wave and a wave cannot be a particle. But together, they are more or different than what they were separately. Thus, “sexual complementarity” suggests that through marriage and childbirth, the male and the female become something they couldn’t be separately. And this is true. A person who has been a successful spouse and parent is more than they were if they stayed single.

But I cannot accept that if two males or two females succeeded in a lifelong relationship, they do not become something new or better than if they had been single their whole life. Through mutual care, suffering and sacrificing for each other, they have grown into a better person. True, this complementarity may not be deemed “sexual” in nature. But the sameness of their bodies does not prevent an eventual, beneficial complementarity in its own right. "The Catechism does not say that because two men and two women have the “same bodies” that there can be “no genuine affection or emotion of love.” It’s simply saying that authentic love between two men or two women can never be the same thing as the kind of love between a man and a woman."

I agree with the second portion - it is just not the same way as with man and woman. But I disagree with the first statement. The catechism, by stating that -regarding homosexual activities - “It does not proceed from a genuine affective…” does indeed say it is impossible. That such contact is never produced by a genuine emotion, love, affection. This is why the final statement in the catechism states, “Under NO circumstances can it be condoned.” The problem I am having with the catechism and the remarks made here is that everyone is focused on the “Best case scenario.”

Yes, a man and woman in the marital bonds procreating is the best, most proper and acceptable exercise of sexuality. But to then state that two people of the same gender, once they become intimate, can only be deemed “intrinsically disordered.” I could go on further, but I’ll break for now to give you a chance to respond. P.S. Are you a priest Fr ACEGC?


What this means, of course, in terms of saying “not the same thing”, is that – in Catholic theology – romantic love (and therefore sexual expression in relationships) – is only validly found between a man and a woman.

Can two men or two women have a relationship that is, as you put it, characterized by “mutual care, suffering and sacrificing for each other”? Of course. The Catholic position would be that this relationship isn’t romantic or sexual in nature, however.

This doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church says that there can be no relationship, or that the relationship wouldn’t be a positive one. Just that the relationship, if it is to be for the good of both parties, cannot be a romantic or sexual one, since that’s the province of marriage between a man and a woman.

Note, though, that this isn’t talking about the quality of any particular relationship. It’s not asserting that “because it’s a man and a woman, they’ll get along wonderfully.” Therefore, a response that claims that “a particular relationship between a particular pair of men might be better than a particular relationship between this particular man and that particular woman” misses the point of the assertion. It’s not that a given same-sex couple might be a “better match” than a given man and woman – it’s that romantic relationships, according to the Catholic tradition, are the province of “one man and one woman.”

It isn’t even saying that people in same sex romantic relationships are themselves “intrinsically disordered.” Rather, the attraction is what’s described in those terms. We are all sinners, and so, we all have attractions to things that are disordered. However, that’s not the claim being made here.

No – the people are not “intrinsically disordered.” If they become sexually intimate, then they have sinned; but they’re not described by the Church as personally ‘disordered’.


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