It was recently reported that Pope Francis told a man who identifies as “gay,” that God made him “gay.” According to Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse victim of a Chilean priest, Pope Francis told him, “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that, and I do not care. The pope wants you like that, you have to be happy with who you are.” This was not a direct quote but the recollection of Juan Carlos, and the Vatican did not confirm that the Holy Father actually said it.
But the questions remain, does God “make people gay”? Does God “love them like that”? These are very important questions that must be clarified, because the wrong answer has harmful implications.
|Father Nick Nelson
Handing on the Faith
So first, does God “make people gay”? Meaning does God intentionally create people with a deep-seated attraction to those of the same sex? Does God create them with that desire, and want them to act on that desire? We have to say “no.” God does not make people “gay.” Because if God did make people with homosexual tendencies, it would mean either one of two things:
1) It would mean that he created another type or kind of human person that didn’t exist at the beginning. This means he has changed the plan for humanity and he didn’t bother to tell us. Divine revelation expressed in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture is clear that God made man for woman and woman for man. This is the plan for humanity, the complementarity of the sexes. In the beginning we read, “God created man in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). And, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:24). If God now makes people “gay,” then there must be another plan, another set of rules for humanity. It would suggest that God has created a different plan for happiness and fulfillment that didn’t exist at the beginning. But the problem with that idea is that God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t change the plan for humanity.
2) If God didn’t change the plan for humanity, and the original plan of the complementarity of the sexes is still in force, then it would mean that God intentionally makes some individuals to be permanently frustrated. If God intentionally makes some people with homosexual desires, but the plan for happiness and fulfillment based off of the complementarity of the sexes hasn’t changed, then that means that God intentionally created some people with unfulfillable desires. And that is not God. God is not vicious like that. He does not intentionally create people whose fulfillment is an impossibility.
Does God love them like that? Well, God loves everyone. He loves us with our disordered passions (“disordered” means not in accord with the “order” or the plan God built into the world). He loves us when we are in the depths of sin, whether that be homosexual sin or any other sin. But that is different from saying that God loves the disordered desire, or that he loves that we commit the sin.
God does not love that our passions are disordered. That was not God’s design but the result of original sin. He does not love that we engage in sinful acts that are contrary to our human nature. Therefore, he does not love that some people have a strong sexual desire for those of the same sex. He does not love that some people engage in sexual acts with members of the same sex. How could he love something that goes contrary to purpose he made us? How could he love something that harms us?
The infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church is clear that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and that every human person is called to chastity. This includes homosexual persons. This is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2357-2359.
To suggest that God made homosexual persons “gay,” or that God loves them like that is wrong and harmful. It gives those who struggle with same-sex attraction the wrong message. It says they should not trust in grace and they should give up the fight. It tells them that their disordered desire is good and should be acted upon. And like any other sin, this sin only leads us to more emptiness and more pain and more suffering.
The common Christian response is, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I think it’s even more correct to say, “Hate the sin, because you love the sinner.” This is because the sin is contrary to our good. And to love the sinner means you desire their good, i.e. their relative fulfillment and happiness here one on earth and eternal beatitude in heaven. Therefore, we should hate what is contrary — what leads them away from their good.
I am not attempting a comprehensive article on homosexuality, I’m only attempting to shed some light on the supposed remarks of our Holy Father that have caused some confusion. For a more comprehensive volume on the subject, please see “Made for Love: Same Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church” by Father Mike Schmitz.
Father Nick Nelson is pastor of St. Mary, Cook; St. Martin, Tower; and Holy Cross, Orr. He studied at The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome