Sexual diversity, God's design, and the Catholic explanation

The Catholic Church has a specific understanding of God’s plan for human sexuality. In the beginning God made man and woman, and they are meant to be complementary so as to form sexual union together. In this way, the Church takes a fairly literal understanding of Genesis – at least when it comes to the creation of man, woman, and their intended relationship together. So for the Church, the Bible lays a foundation for understanding God’s design in creating man, woman, sex, and marriage. And the Church’s entire doctrinal system and theology builds off this very basic understanding of reality. Again, God made man and woman, and God made them to complement each other and form sexual unions.

When we look around us, we can attest to the fact that this layout is generally and usually the case. There are men, and there are women, and they tend to form sexual unions with each other. However, reducing reality to this seems to cause serious problems when one starts to look around a bit more. Simply put, the Church’s umbrella of reality seems much smaller than that which actually is. For there are not only men and women who are so easily complementary to each other, sexually or what not. For there are men with exclusive same-sex attraction, and there are women with exclusive same-sex attraction. In fact, some would argue that sexuality is actually fluid. In addition, not every human person is strictly and 100% male or female: There are intersex persons, which refers to people who have male and female characteristics (XXY chromosomes or reproductive organs of one sex with external characteristics of the other sex).

This sexual diversity is either part of God’s design or it is not. When people insist that the variances are not part of God’s design – when people say that homosexual attraction or intersex persons were not originally in God’s plan – they usually mean that these circumstances exist because of a fallen world. Nevertheless, such sexual diversity is found in the physical/biological realm, so one has to question what makes these physical or biological effects natural consequences of a fallen state. On the contrary, it would be rather arbitrary to say these biological factors exist thanks to the Fall or Original Sin. If arbitrary, then these consequences are not inherent to a fallen world and therefore one would have to conclude **they are part of God’s design. **

But if such things as homosexual attraction and intersex biological factors are natural, inherent consequences of the Fall or a fallen world, then it would seem reasonable to consider such things as part of God’s plan when they would have existed in humanity all along, except for maybe the few years of Adam and Eve’s innocence.

**In summary, it seems the Church’s understanding of reality, when it comes to sexual diversity, is much smaller than that which actually exists. In addition, the common Catholic explanations for why such a great diversity exists (with regards to homosexuality, interesex characteristics, etc.), to me, seem inadequate, as they usually have to do with “consequences of the Fall”. If someone could explain how the Fall’s natural (and not arbitrary) effects/consequences include the homosexual orientation and intersex persons, then please explain. **

**

“Rather than see this as a problem to be solved—trying to fit all this diversity back into some original (and inaccessible) pattern of Adam or Eve—could this have been God’s plan all along: to begin the story with two who are called to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” with different kinds of people who are all called to love one another and worship God in their similarities and differences?”

**

If God Only Made Male & Female What About Intersex?

patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/if-god-only-made-male-female-what-about-intersex/

No.

God made Adam. Adam was the perfect genetic human being. Far better than humans are today. Today, human beings are many generations removed from this original perfect man. As each new generation passes, mans genetic code is becoming more and more broken due to genetic degradation. This is why evolution is false. We are losing genetic information with each new generation, not gaining it.

This is why conditions such as depression, autism etc are increasing and why broken sexualities are increasing and increasing. This is why we see homosexuality in both humans and animals. Both are suffering the effects of genetic degradation because Adam decided he wanted to be a god (as per the serpents offer) so God decided to let Adam and the world to its own devices to show the consequences of trying to be your own god. Its not pretty. A world without God controlling it is not pretty. Just look at the broken world around us.

So, we shouldn’t embrace a broken sexuality like homosexuality in much the same way as we shouldn’t embrace depression or autism and think these things are great. There is no “gay gene”. Man is born with one sexuality - heterosexuality (thats what the science says) …and due to genetic degradation, that sexuality is broken in some people and they are attracted to members of the same sex, or members of both sexes. Its fluid like you say. Some people have a broken sexuality, others have a broken mind, others have a broken body. We are all broken in some way. But we shouldn’t embrace that brokenness. We should be rejecting the broken world and seeking to get back to God.

When you say “homosexuality is ok”, you are making the same mistake Adam made by rejecting God, and trying to be your own god making up your own rules and laws about what is right or wrong. Are you going to try to be a god? Or are you going to let God be God?

Your original post seems to be making the faulty assumption that homosexual attraction has a genetic genesis, whereas most of the actual scientific evidence seems to suggest that it is something apart from genetics. (There has been no evidence showing a genetic origin for homosexual attraction, whereas there have been several studies which show an environmental origin.)

As to the question of inter-sexed individuals, the primary explanation I’ve seen for this is that two zygotes form during the impregnation, one male, one female. During the course of the pregnancy, one of the two dies, and is absorbed by the other. This results in a combination of male and female genes in a single developing child. The main thing I’m trying to illustrate is that the person is not created inter-sexed, they become inter-sexed through a natural, albeit sad, occurrence. Their natural state was still male or female, and the realities of death in our fallen world result in a deviation from that intended state.

In the end, none of these things indicate that there is some deeper reality to human sexuality than that He created us Male and Female. Being part of fallen creation does not automatically make it part of God’s plan, because God’s plan was not to have a fallen reality, that’s our fault. Sin and evil are both part of a fallen world, but are certainly not part of God’s plan.

  1. I accept the scientific consensus that biological evolution is a fact. So I do not accept much of your explanation.

  2. we still have to deal with the fact that for all of human history, generally, variances such as homosexual orientation and intersex persons have existed. In other words, even if you posit that the Fall causes such sexual diversity, still - humanity has not experienced world in any other way (excerpt perhaps the very short time before the fall, which was experienced by only two humans).

  3. There may not be a gay gene as such, but that does not mean homosexuality is not biological in any way. But that is another topic.

  4. Just asserting I am trying to make myself God “like Adam did” solves nothing, and I wish you would see that. Be respectful and acknowledge that others can have honest, sincere understandings different from your own. You do not accept the science of evolution for example. I respect you and think you are wrong, but I do not thereby see the devil scheming for your soul.

Where do you get the idea that Adam was a perfect genetic human being? What does that even mean? What do you mean by losing genetic information? Do you have any science to back this up?

I think there is a biological basis for homosexual attraction. But we don’t have to get into that. We can as well just talk about intersex persons. The fact is intersex persons do not fit into the schema of the so-called (sexual) complementarity of men and women.

If we want to speak of the Fall’s consequences, we have to determine what makes such things as inherent consequences of the Fall – or else we would have to consider homosexuality and intersex as arbitrary (and not inherent) punishments for the Fall. I see no reason for why these should be inherent consequences of the Fall. Did the Fall alter our genetic code?

Could it be that sexual diversity is just a consequence of the creative world that God formed - a creative world that has formed a diversity of races and ethnicities, for example.

The most basic issue is that we as a church attribute heavy standards, ideals, and morality to sexuality. There is a way God made the world, the Church says. Yet so many people experience a world that makes it hard to live under the umbrella of the church’s perspective.

I apologize for not taking the time to absorb and properly address your ideas, but it may help to embrace the story of the fall and its consequences as something that is not literal. I hold the same belief that man was created through evolution. This is the best theory that matches what we know to be true. Humans did sin at some point, as represented by the eating of the fruit, causing the fall. This very well could have disrupted the order of the world including the order of nature. After all, if the Angels didn’t fall, we would have possibly not fallen. It is possible that these dis-ordered attractions were not present in any of nature before the fall.

To say these attractions, and people with intersex presentations, are part of God’s plan is pertcrtly okay as long as it is under God’s permissive will. These happen because of genetic mutations or because of enrivironemntal factors. This happens because of the sinful nature of man which lead to the fall. It is important to remember that there is no sin involved in having the tendencies to be attracted to the same sex. Sin is just the rejection of God’s will.

We should also remember that temptation existed before the fall. I believe temptation existed because of the fall of the Angels.

I apologize if this is incoherent. I don’t have the time to better collect my thoughts.

God man him so he had to be perfect.

Yes, its called genetic degradation or genetic entropy. You probably haven’t heard of it because it contradicts the theory of evolution and like anything that contradicts the theory of evolution, it is censored from the school curriculum and the media.

When you have a child, your child is a slightly less imperfect copy of you. This is scientific fact as proven by genetic degradation. Just like if you were to photocopy a document, the photocopy is not as good as the original. Now if you were to photocopy the photocopy, and then phototcopy that photocopy and do this 1000 times, by the 1000th time you would not longer be able to read the text on the page. We are now many generations removed from the perfect original genetic human being (Adam) and so our genetics are an imperfect copy of his. This is why rates of depression, autism, broken sexualities, broken gender identities, cancer in children etc are increasing …not decreasing if evolution was making us better and better with each new generation.

Atheists say “If God is so good, why didn’t he design humans better?”. He did. He designed the perfect human being in the perfect world, and then Adam rejected it. The broken human beings we see now are a result of Adam trying to be his own god and God has left him to it. Everything that comes out of the hands of God is perfect, but degenerates in the hands of man.

You still seem to be missing the point. Neither of these things have to do with genetics. What you personally think is irrelevant, there is no evidence supporting a genetic genesis for homosexuality, and as I’ve already explained, inter-sexed development is the result of the death of a fetus during development. (see my previous post). The consequence of the fFall is death, and death is the cause of this aberration. As for homosexuality, evidence suggests it is primarily the result of environmental and social factors.

The consequences of the fall are Death, and concupiscence, which can account for both of your proposed variants.

Could it be that sexual diversity is just a consequence of the creative world that God formed - a creative world that has formed a diversity of races and ethnicities, for example.

No, because that is not how He created us. Genetically, we are male and female. I’ve already offered an explanation for those handful of inter-sexed cases which can easily be traced back the effects of the Fall. It remains a deviation from the proper development of the human embryo, and cannot be considered part God’s plan for humanity because, without the introduction of death, it would not be possible for it to exist.

The most basic issue is that we as a church attribute heavy standards, ideals, and morality to sexuality. There is a way God made the world, the Church says. Yet so many people experience a world that makes it hard to live under the umbrella of the church’s perspective.

We attribute those standards, ideals and morality because they are in line with reality. The existence of deviations does not change the proper order; nor does it give license to immorality. It is always hard to live under the “Church’s Umbrella,” as you put it. That’s true in all walks of life, not just when it comes to sexuality. The degree of difficulty does not make it any less true or right, nor does it remove our culpability for failing to live up to it. Nothing of true value is easy. Sin is easy precisely because it lacks any value.
Unfortunately, too many in our culture would rather take the easy route than strive for what is Good.

Its not really “we”. Its Jesus’ church. When Jesus gave the keys to Peter, He called it “my church”. The Pope just does what the Holy Spirit guides him to do. He can’t take Jesus’ church and start making up his own rules. All the “standards, ideals, and morality” you see in the church is straight from God. God knows whats best as he can see the bigger picture which we can’t. I know it can seem like the church is ganging up on gay people, but that’s really not the case at all in the bigger picture of things.

I know its not always easy, especially if we know someone who is gay who is also a good person, but we must fight against the temptation of trying to make up our own rules and laws about what is right and wrong. Even if we think we know best, we’d probably only end up making things worse.

This is a very common mistake in moral and theological reasoning, namely, appealing to the exceptions and rare cases. Laws are made for the general cases. Thus, man is naturally male and female, even though there may be some individual cases where it is difficult to tell which one. Another example would be that man generally has two arms, even though some are born with only one, some with three etc. Such anomalies are called anomalies because they violate the general rule, in the case of sex, that there are two sexes, in the case of arms, two arms, etc.

As regards how it’s connected with the Fall, it must be remembered that it is of faith that physical death was a consequence of the sin of Adam, both for himself and for all his posterity, which is the whole human race. It is also the unanimous opinion of theologians that all physical evils which befall man in his own body/soul (such as sickness, as opposed to say, tornadoes which effect a man externally) result from the Fall as well. Thus these sort of deformities, such as having XXY chromosomes are connected with the Fall in being a physical evil in the body, which had man not sinned, he would not have suffered.

I hope this was helpful,
Benedicat Deus,
Latinitas

Its interesting to note that homosexuality does not appear in the bible until after Noahs flood. Noahs flood caused a bottleneck in the human gene pool when the entire human population at the time was reduced to just 8 persons. This would naturally cause genetic problems going forward even though these 8 persons were far more genetically superior than humans today (as they were closer in time to Adam than we are).

Because Adam had perfect genetics, this is why Adams immediate children were able to marry one another and have children without risk of birth defects. Brothers and sisters today can’t do that as their genetics would not be as good as Adams immediate children.

Not to hijack the thread, but isn’t evolution taught in most Catholic schools and universities? And doesn’t the Church itself teach that evolution is compatible with Catholic theology, since it only describes how the physical body came to be, not the soul?

Evolution is taught in the Catholic school that I am familiar with, even when the public schools were not teaching it.

Man has two parts: a physical body and a Soul. Since science cannot explain different biological problems regarding different sexual birth defects, people should include theology to get the whole picture. Adam and Eve, our first parents, "… possessed the preternatural gifts of:

impassibility (freedom from pain)
immortality (freedom from death)
integrity (freedom from concupiscence, or disordered
desires)
infused knowledge (freedom from ignorance in matters
essential for happiness)"

This ended with physical and spiritual consequences. Jesus healed a lot of people. He even brought back some from death. But He also said:

“For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:12 NIV

He knew death and illness had come into the world, and healed many.

From the Catechism:

"1502 The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.99 Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the healing.100 It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: "For I am the Lord, your healer."101 The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others.102 Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness.103

"Christ the physician

"1503 Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that "God has visited his people"104 and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins;105 he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of.106 His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me."107 His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.

'1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.108 He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands,109 mud and washing.110 The sick try to touch him, "for power came forth from him and healed them all."111 And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.

“1505 Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”.112 But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,”.113 of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.”

Ed

In my phone - but a couple of general remarks:

  1. I choose not to get my science from the Bible. I accept evolutionary theory, and I see no reason to interpret the first parts of Genesis literalistically. You do not have to accept this view to respond, but please note I work with those assumptions, and it seems the teaching church generally has moved that way, too.

  2. Homosexual attraction has to have some foundation in one’s biology - no matter how fundamental or in what sense it is “genetic” or not. Sexuality is a physical, biological reality that incorporates brain chemistry, hormones, brain structure, etc. Humans are biological entities. When I say that homosexual orientation or intersex is a biological consequence, I don’t mean there is a single gene that switches gay “on or off.” If there were no biological reality that allowed for homosexuality (in particular), then social or environmental factors would have no effect, anyway.

  3. I may be appealing to exceptions and rare situations, but that is precisely the point. The traditional Catholic umbrella of reality does not seem to very well account for the variances.

  4. Nitpicking at the little details like in what sense homosexual attraction is “genetic” or in what sense the Fall is literal distracts from the basic point: the church’s understanding of reality, as of now, does not seem to adequately explain such sexual diversity.

However we want to define the Fall of man and its effects, the reality is that humanity has only ever been one way: in a world that has (or at least the potential for) sexual variance. The time of innocence did not last long for humanity (just an original pair!)

And considering God’s omniscience, He knew our first parents would sin. And he knew so many people would not experience the ideal of man loving woman and woman loving man.

Put another way, I could just ask the CAF audience at this point: In your understanding, in what sense is such sexual diversity (that does not fit in the norm of man/woman in sexual Union and complementarity) part of God’s plan or not part of God’s plan? And if not part of God’s plan, why do these things exist? If part of the Fall, how?

Can you provide any evidence to support this statement? Where are you getting this idea that Adam was perfect? We know very little about genetics, relatively speaking. What we do know completely seems to disagree with the basic fundamentals of genetics.

I guess one answer is that we must all face trials of one sort or another:

through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

ACTS 14:22

Some of these trials might include denying ourselves. Denying ourselves can come in many forms including remaining celibate if our sexuality is broken. Jesus said:

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

**LUKE 9:23 **

It can be tempting to try and shoe-horn our beliefs into the bible but:

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

PROVERBS 14:12

I know you might still question if this includes homosexuality. Its not easy to be the bad guys/girls in society and say gay acts are wrong. Personally i’d prefer to say gay acts are ok. But the bible seems clear that that is the position we must take.

  1. I agree.

  2. It doesn’t have to be purely biological. The sexual attraction is biological. The homosexual aspect of the attraction can be purely psychological. Which is rooted in biology, but the interaction between the two is far from settled.

  3. Why would you ever establish a rule based on the exception. I believe you claim may be based on relativism. It is good to eat. There are those who tend to eat unhealthy foods, there are those who tend to not eat at all, and there are even those who tend to eat inedible objects. There are even those who claim to eat God. None of these change the rule that it is good to eat and we are ordered to it.

  4. I believe the Church isn’t focused on explaining so much why things are wrong, but rather why they are right. There is heavy science and psychology involved in disordered sexual attractions. This is much more a scientific question that really isn’t allowed to be studied anymore because “there is nothing wrong with homosexuality”. Disorder exists simply because we are imperfect humans.

This is also a God who foresaw celibacy, and unnatural state. It’s okay to have natural urges that aren’t fulfilled because we make a rational choice to follow a higher calling or order. Why then would God not allow us to deny disordered attentions to acts that are not natural in order to build virtue and love for God?

We are all meant to face temptation. Even the two perfect humans, Jesus and Mary, faced suffering and temptation. Our temptations always involve a spiritual and a physical aspect. Those with temptations towards sexual disorders and sins just have a different way of being tempted. A perfectly straight man can be attracted to same sex actions and still be completely heterosexual (There is a reason why lesbian porn exists). If we start finding ways to include homosexual attraction we must also find ways to include odd fetishes into God’s master plan. The Church doesn’t know the science of why people are attracted to certain things, but it does hold the truth of God’s intention for sexuality. We are all allowed to be tempted in different ways, even if fall had never happened. It is quite possible that God allowed the exception of homosexual attraction before the fall, this doesn’t change the truth of God’s plan for sexuality. Celibacy for the Kingdom is the solution.

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