Struggling to defend Church on controversial position

A coworker verbally attacked the Churchs’ position on homosexuality today and said its the reason she won’t come back to the Church. I tried to gently explain the Churchs’ position to her and a few others that were around. I was told that science has proved that “you’re born gay” whereas I said, I don’t believe the science has in fact come in 100% in favour that its genetic. Then I was told no one would choose such a life so how is it they are not born that way. Then another coworker who has two siblings who are gay (and one committed suicide recently) got very emotional and insisted they were born that way (she’s Catholic too). I truly felt awful that my cautious defence of the Church’s position caused her to cry.

I really don’t know how else I could have defended the Church without having upset her (she’s a very lovely lady). Are there times where we should just let people vent without trying to explain the Churchs’ side? This has come up with other topics like IVF, abortion, etc and I find that I always end up upsetting someone who is not being vicsious towards me. I speak in a gentle tone but someone usually ends up in tears or near tears. I’m really getting close to just keeping quiet because I feel like I’m inflicting pain on people who just don’t know any better.

You could ignore the point about people supposedly being ‘born gay’, and approach it from the point of view of grace versus sin.

We are all born sinners. This fact does not justify any sin. We all must struggle against sin, even though the sin of selfishness (expressed in any of a myriad of different ways) may seem ‘natural’ to us. We cannot use our own fallen human nature by itself as the guide for our consciences. Christ and His Church is our guide, even if sometimes these teachings seem difficult to understand or accept. To have faith is to believe beyond what reason can comprehend.

Maybe you could take this approach… The Catholic Church believes that the purpose of sex is to create children. Sex is something that is supposed to be (only) between a married couple as not only part of procreation but also of the joined intimacy of that union. Marriage, and therefore sex, is to be between one man and one woman. Anything outside of these then is wrong. It’s the same reason that pre-marital sex is wrong, it’s why extra-marital sex is wrong, it’s why we don’t believe in birth control. So since homosexuality would be same sex, no recognized marriage, therefore no sex. You might also mention that the Church’s purpose is to teach the love of Christ…therefore you should love all of God’s children whatever their situation. We must however also help each other to avoid sin. So love the sinner, but help the sinner find reconciliation and grace to avoid all sin. It’s a difficult subject, but I think the focus should be that the problem with homosexuality is not the people, but the sin that comes from sex outside of marriage. Doesn’t that make more sense? Hope that helps. God Bless.

Start with what the Church actually TEACHES. The Church is silent about the theory that one is “born gay” or “chooses to be gay” (notice the area I hilighted in bold red for you) - before you enter a debate, go to the Catechism:

(one side note, avoid conversations like this at work. Unless you work in a place where these convesations are vital to the work, you could lose your job for creating a “hostile work enviornment”)

Chastity and homosexuality

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,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 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.

I would advise that you may be leaving safe ground by discussing “religion” in the workspace, especially with two remorseful and angry coworkers who may puruse action against you. Read your company bulletin boards to see what literature the HR dept has posted about employee behavior.

Sadly, the family connection and guilt these two coworkers are holding will make any discussion almost fruitless. I would simply pray for them all day long, “Jesus, have mercy on ____ and ___” and repeat that simple prayer to yourself as many times each day as you can, and then as advised in Pslam 27, “…be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.”

If the topic comes up, I would suggest that you suggest you all meet for coffee after work or on a Sat. to continue the discussion.

Grace & Peace!

The difficulty in most discussions like those mentioned in the original post stem from the two sides of the debate not actually talking about the same thing. Here’s what I mean:

1–The RC Catechism does not once, to my knowledge, mention the words heterosexual or heterosexuality, and it’s discussion of homosexuality is couched in terms of psychology and disorder. However, it views sexuality very positively and discusses its importance in human wholeness. It’s clear that, while the catechism does not come out and say so directly, Rome does not believe in sexualities. That is, it does not mention heterosexuality because it does not believe in it, and it does not believe in it because doing so assumes that heterosexuality is a variety of human sexuality. Rome believes in one fundamental human sexuality, oriented toward marriage, finding its most complete expression in chastity (either within or without the married state). As such, homosexuality is a disorder of a primal (as in original) sexuality. It is an illness and is not reflective of a rightly ordered and/or healthy sexuality. The difficulty in terms of the catechism, is in explaining how the inclination is a disorder but not a sin, and the acts are disordered but sinful–that is, it is possible to have a disordered sexuality but not be in a state of sin, even though an ordered sexuality is important to human wholeness . Difficulty, however, attends all forms of nuance and Rome’s position on homosexuality does not exclude nuance.
2–For many others, sexuality is a fundamental aspect of human wholeness which is legitimately expressed in a variety of ways–heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality are all viable expressions of human sexuality which relate to our capacity for relationship (much as the primal sexuality of the catechism relates to our capacity for relationship as well). These sexualities can become pathological if they are expressed coercively, violently, obsessively, inappropriately, or non-consensually. Otherwise, they are not generally seen as pathological or in need of healing.

Because a similar vocabulary is used, these two camps’ understanding of human sexuality are appear similar enough to make people believe they’re talking about the same thing–they’re not. Camp 1 speaks of a singular sexuality that can be corrupted. Camp 2 speaks of sexualities that can be corrupted. This presents a very particular challenge to any Roman apologist. This stems mostly from the fact that no truly respected psychological or medical institution or organization agrees with Rome’s fundamental point–that varieties of sexuality do not exist as such.

For the most part, therefore, many people will hear a Roman apologist’s statement that homosexual acts are sinful and the homosexual inclination is disordered as saying, “in order to be good people, homosexuals must be sexually repressed and view their sexuality as a source of sin, hating it all the while. It is impossible for a homosexual to properly relate to anyone (particularly sexually) given a fundamental deficiency in their sexuality. Homosexuals are not quite human, therefore–or, in order to be human, must deny a fundamental aspect of their humanity. But it’s all a mystery that I can’t quite understand because the magisterium tells me what to believe so I don’t need to bother so much with understanding things.” Clearly, this does not sound like a very loving thing to say and is even quite offensive. And while I, admittedly, do not agree with Rome’s fundamental position, this is not quite what a Roman apologist is actually saying. But that’s how its heard.

When a person from camp 2 talks about sexuality, however, someone in camp 1 is likely to hear, “it’s okay to do what whatever you want, particularly sexually, because sexuality is a good and sexual expression is important and as along as it doesn’t hurt anyone, everything should be fine. You can do what you want. I’m clearly delusional and that’s okay too because I’m a moral relativist and today is Tuesday so delusion is fine today.” It sounds a bit ludicrous. But it’s also not quite what the camp 2 person is saying. But that’s how its heard.



For either camp to have a meaningful conversation, I think it’s important to:

–First: acknowledge differences of approach and get them on the table, realizing that changing perspectives on sexuality (singular or multiple) is likely not going to happen. The goal is understanding, not argument.
–Second: expose misconceptions regarding each others’ belief. It’s no good having the conversation if it all comes down to, “You just don’t want people to have sex,” or “You just want to have sex with anything,” or worse, “it’s thinking like that that’s killed a member of my family.” All are misconceptions, all are ludicrous. The last is particularly ludicrous and dangerous because an unhealthy dissonance between the camps (most often the result of dishonesty or a lack of self-knowledge) leads to violence and depression–i.e., if I actually believe the Camp 2 position, but I buy into the part of the Camp 1 position that says homosexuality is disordered and the acts sinful, I will a) be very depressed if I’m a homosexual (because it means God is being cruel to me, or that I cannot be fully human), or b) find it very hard to relate to homosexuals and may begin to see them as subhuman or somehow naturally damned or of little human worth.
–Third: talk about what each camp’s position is actually aiming towards and what each position reveals about the values each camp holds as a result. For instance, ultimately Camp 1 doesn’t want people to not have sex–it wants people to orient their sexuality and their relational capacity towards God, and marriage is the means by which this orientation is, in large part, understood to be accomplished. When we are so oriented, we will find it difficult to abuse ourselves and others because our relationships will be windows onto the love of God. This orientation is the goal. We fail, we hit wide of the mark, but we try again by grace to approach the goal. A Theist in Camp 2 will no doubt have similar aspirations and values. If aspirations and values are hard to come by, hard to articulate, largely selfish, or loosely assented to, chances are the position is arbitrarily or not thoughtfully held and can, in fact, admit change.

I don’t know if any of that was helpful, but…it’s how I see this debate, at any rate.

Under the Mercy,

All is grace and mercy! Deo gratias!

I do not know if people are born that way or not but we know people are born with many difficulties, disabilities, and sickness everyday. In no way do I condone this but we must earnestly pray for them as we would any other person.This is not an easy issue to deal with. We must all continue with conversion and remind folks about giving their life to Jesus and loving him. Only through him may we receive so use that as your message without bringing up the fact they are born this way. They know they have a problem so we need to console in the proper manner as to say turn toward Jesus for he will bring you home and where you need to be. All this can be started just by inviting them to Mass on Sunday and offering to pray for them or their loved one. Be strong in faith with your words but also remember the person’s heart and feeling’s. Even with a gentle tone the wrong words or approach can damage the person but on the other hand you can use a stearn voice with proper language and they will be glad for it with a much greater understanding. :slight_smile:

the idea that the secular world has that if your “born gay” than it must be okay to be gay is a just plain stupid. child molesters can’t help feeling like molesting children, the serial killer can’t help that he feels like decapitating red heads, the drug addict can’t help feeling like getting messed up, ect. everyone has their cross to carry which is primarily in our thoughts. all sin or virtue begins in our thoughts before acting on them. The holy spirit gives us the control over our thoughts that we lack. the transformation of sinner to saint is a thing of the heart and thought. Gay people always say “I can’t change the fact that I’m gay” this is a lie. all they have to do is stop having homosexual thoughts. While this is a very hard thing to do all they need to do is make the effort but in this world we are only willing to do hard work if it brings us money and stuff but rarley will people do it in their hearts and minds. Case in point:me I was once a socio-path with thoughts that would have made jack the ripper tell me to get therapy since my conversion I have become such a pacifist I can not even watch a cos and robbers t.v. show without sheading tears at the violence I see. I become sick to the point of nearly puking at seeing anything moraly reprehesable. this change happened in my heart and mind I changed my thoughts. If I could do this when I was “born bad” then any gay can do it, they are just to lazy and pridefull to do it.

I agree. We’re ALL born with original sin, but it’s not like Jesus is trying to make us unhappy by asking us to live holy lives contrary to the “way we were born.” It seems to me that gay activists think that that they’re the only ones that the Church is asking to deny their “innate” sinful desires. I mean, wake up people! Everyone has had temptations to do sinful stuff for as long as they can remember! It doesn’t change the morality of the act.

Could you please define what a homosexual thought is, and how I can stop having them?

Furthermore, could you explain how suppressing sexual thoughts changes one’s sexual orientation? To me, it seems like you are saying, if you close the curtains on the window, everything outside no longer exists.

Finally, would you care to explain on what authority you make the claim that people are not born gay. The catechism does not go so far as to say that, so I am curious as to what authority you have.

I think we have to just accept that there is a dominant culture which s keen for whatever reason to normalise homosexuality and that this dominant culture is essentially inimical to the view of the disorder held by the Church.

In the circumstances it is probably best not to discuss the issue at work.

1)A homosexual thought is the oppisite of a hetrosexual thought Duh!
2)You are what you think. If you think you are a christian you are a christian, if you think your a serial-killer chances are you will become one. People are gay becuse they have gay thoughts just as people are hetrosexual becuse they have hetrosexual thoughts (sexual fantisies)
3)Biology. People no matter what way they swing when grown have no sexual identiy when born. Peolple say “i’m born this way” becuse they are to fearfull to admit they are moraly wrong in their actions and to lazy to change.

Overall, I want to point out that your extreme oversimplification of homosexuality, and your lack of any kind of support to your claims is extremely detrimental to your arguement. It is arguments like this that do more to exacerbate the rift between many well-meaning homosexuals and many well-meaning religous people than it does to bring unity and understanding. And unity is something that all Catholics should work for.


I think the key in these discussions is to FIRST establish that the dominant culture is in a war between two opposing viewpoints on this issue, but that war MUST NOT obscure the fact that there is a THIRD viewpoint less commonly held and it is this third that is the actual catholic teaching.

The war is mostly between those who believe:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with homosexual behavior - it is as normal as hetero behavior.
  2. Homosexuals are disgusting perverts that SHOULD be shunned.

You have to be blunt with these two. NOW you can bring on the third. The hostility between the first two groups blinds them both from seeing the third position clearly:

  1. Homosexual behavior is inherently self destructive and harmful for those who engage in it, just like many other self destructive tendencies humans have as a result of sin entering the world. Nobody argues that alcoholics should just “be themselves.” There is even substantial evidence of genetic influences to alcoholism! That just doesn’t matter because the behavior itself is destructive.

I too have known gay guys who committed suicide. The claim that the suicide is sparked by the societal disapproval is unfounded and unexamined. Gay suicide rates are astronomical EVERYWHERE in which statistics are gathered, no matter how friendly the culture is towards homosexuality. It is the self destructiveness of the behavior itself that causes the suicide and depression rates, not the peer pressure.

We’ve (as a culture today) uncritically done homosexuals a grave disservice by enabling them and attempting to normalize their harmful behavior. We SHOULD be treating them like we treat alcoholics (recovering and otherwise). We’ve come a long way in how we treat alcoholics as a culture. We don’t despise and deride “drunks” anymore, we’ve developed ways to help them deal with it (note that nobody “cures” an alcoholic). Don’t buy them a drink, don’t go drinking together, don’t discuss favorite liquor brands with them! Respect them as human beings who are dealing with a problem, no more or less.

You won’t likely convince people the first time you discuss it, but perhaps you can plant a seed. Opposing normalized homosex is not hate. Watch and see. No matter how “accepted” it becomes, the homosexual subculture will always have sky high depression, promiscuity, infidelity and suicide rates. It’s inherently self destructive. Affirming the lifestyle is no different than buying booze for an alcoholic.

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