When do homosexual inclinations become lust or sin?

We are told the temptation is not the sin but the act is. But when does it become equivalent to heterosexual lust/sin?


Sin is in the will. When we willfully entertain disordered thoughts, we sin. When we place ourselves unnecessarily in a near occasion of mortal sin, we sin. Same holds true no matter the disorder.

Suppose someone finds himself starting to lust. Inside, he can either say yes to that lust or no. He can let the feelings take over, or he can calmly recognize what is happening, and calmly turn his thoughts in a pure direction. If the feeling is too overpowering, for example from force of habit, the one tempted may need to remove himself from the situation if possible. We can’t control whom we’re attracted to, and we cannot instantly fix all disorder within us; but we don’t have to consent to it. The more we practice saying no to lust, the better we get at it.

Sin is rooted in the will. You can’t “slip” into sin. There is noting special with being gay/SSA that makes this any different. The church’s teaching is that sex open to life belongs in marriage.

Agree with all of this, except perhaps using the term “disorder” for homosexual attraction. It may have a technical meaning in Catholic moral theology, but I don’t find it helpful for the everyday individual - especially one who identifies as LGBT.

Would be the same in all scenarios

This question here follows from a conversation I had. I mentioned that all natural ends are good. The response to me was "are you sure about that? For some people it may be natural to engage in an alternative lifestyle – is that a “natural end” that is “good”?

I explained that alternative lifestyles are contrary to nature and even then the person is seeking a good. Homosexuality, for instance, the inclination towards love and communion is in itself a good. But the act is disordered. Any other way I could have addressed this response?

Maybe you see why I asked now my original question. Trying to prepare a response to what might come next. Any suggestions?



I guess I would reply by asking if e.g. a man with multiple wives is acting naturally.

I have always stayed away from topics like this on this forum. My take would be considered liberal and probably somewhat heretical. But your question interests me.

God created human desire as a good. It is a prompt to perpetuate the species. Yes, it is considered only good and holy in the context of a sacramental union between a man and a woman, and I don’t disagree with the church’s stance on homosexuality. But that stance does admit that the root cause, the “psychological genesis” is largely unexplained. So the church is saying that at this time, it doesn’t have the complete picture and the complete answer.

So to frame my take from the hetero perspective. Desire, which is in itself a good, only becomes disordered or oriented to an evil when, as I have come to believe, it takes on the aspect of both malice and intent. When that happens, desire becomes lust. And if that malicious intent is evident and it causes one to either abuse oneself or objectify another with the intent to use that person and then discard them when satisfied, that becomes a serious sin, something that is intensely displeasing to the God that created us.

I sometimes get the impression from other posters, that the very existence of thoughts of desire and appreciation of the beauty we find in another to whom we are desirous of is a sin in itself.

How my thoughts would pertain to an SSA situation is up for grabs. I don’t understand that world.

I really think human appreciation and desire only become disordered and sinful when malice and intent are factored in.

Hope this is worthwhile in your seeking an understanding.


Well if accepting the Church’s teachings makes you heretical, then hereti-me-up.

Probably the same as when heterosexual inclinations become sinful.

Homosexuality isn’t held to a different standard than heterosexuality.


You have assumed that nature is perfect which it clearly isn’t since the fall.
Babies can be born with all manner of defects, we all suffer every manner of attractions that we quickly learned are stupid or lead only to pain, in different ways we all have inclinations that are not helpful to varying degrees if indulged.

So no, just because something feels “natural” that doesn’t make it reasonable.
That is called concupiscence.

What the Church means by “nature” and “natural” is in the end whatever accords with right reason. Many teachings go against the grain for all of us in some areas of our lives.

It is saying the cause of the inclination is…not known. The Church is not qualifying its teaching in some way on account of that fact.

I dont assume our nature is perfect but good. A defect implies a lack or shortcoming in nature. Our nature is good since it is supplied by God. If a child is born without hands we say this is a defect because it goes contrary to human nature which is good yet wounded from the fall. The fall does not affect man’s nature. We lost sanctifying grace from the fall. We didn’t lose or gain a corrupt nature.

So when I say natural ends I am speaking of how God made us and how we or ordered. We may fall from that order but that is not to to a lack of good.

Also to further emphasize. Regardless of etiology, even if 100% congenital, the Church’s teachings that the sexual acts (mental and physical) are always disordered would not change. So, a ‘gay gene’ (a stupid debate which oversimplifies the field of genetics) is irrelevant in Catholic teaching.

With regards to the OPs question. It is the same as for a straight married man who is attractive to another woman that isn’t his wife. It is not sinful to notice the person it is attractive. It is a temptation to feel the pull to lust and fantasize (or do a physical action) with that person. Sin enters when we willfully engage those temptations either via lustful fantasy or actual physical action.

For some people it may be natural to engage in their alternative lifestyle - is that a natural end…

is what you said and what I was referring to.

This statement seems to assume that homosexual behaviour is to be judged “natural” not by reason of one’s assigned genitalia but by one’s assigned inclinations.

That is not what the Church primarily means by “natural”.
An inclination is not enough to define what is a natural end.
Such an inclination is a defect, often known as concupiscence.
It is due to our wounded nature and is not good.
That is why it partly defines original sin.

Original sin is more than a loss of sanctifying grace.
It is also a loss of original justice which includes right relation of the body to the soul.
Baptism does not restore this defect which all humanity suffers from except Jesus and Mary and perhaps John the Baptist.

One could state the natural end of same sex attraction is friendship. It is just in the case of ssa/LGBT people there is a temptation to alter it of its intended path and sexualize it (that is where concupiscence comes into play). We seem to forgot that attraction isn’t a bad thing, it’s when it become sexualized when we enter into trouble.

The topic is when do homosexual inclinations become (actual) sin.
It isn’t when does friendship become sin.

The standard answer would be when we freely and knowingly act on them.
To the extent we are confused or compulsed by those inclinations then to that extent the sinfulness is not imputable.

I answered that in my first post (I think it’s post #14). I was also trying to address the other point addressed in the thread.

However, to reiterate my thoughts. Sin would enter the same way it would for a married man. It is not a sin to notice someone is attractive to a person other than the man’s wife or in case of a ssa/LGBT person, a person of the same sex. It is a temptation when he feels a push to lust or do a physical action with that person. Sin enters when we willfully engage that temptation and either actively lust or do a physical action. Hope that adds some needed clarity.

This is a different issue and off topic and can only serve to confuse.

A homosexual or heterosexual inclination, at least by the historical use of the word, is a drive/attraction of the body not the soul. The body knows nothing of friendship, that is an attraction of the higher powers and even then attraction is probably not the best word to use.

So excuse me if I find your approach above less than helpful in understanding the actual question put to the forum.
An inclination, when used in moral theology contexts, is already the first stage of lust…though not yet actually sinful. It supplies the “dry kindling” for conflagration without itself being conflagration.

BTW one does not need to do an external action or deed for sin to occur. We all know adultery and impurity can be of the heart alone.

Fair enough perspective. I was approaching it from my personal perspective and personal insight from my own experiences. I realize how I deal with this cross is not universal to everyone. Thanks for the perspective and agree it would distract too much from the original topic at hand. So, I agree to let focus on the original topic and the goal of the OPs question.

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