The Nature of Marriage in the Divine Plan
THE creation narratives at the beginning of Sacred Scripture reveal that God made human beings in His image and likeness. He created them male and female, equal in dignity but not identical nor interchangeable.
He made one explicitly for the other – “It is not good that the man should be alone” (RSV, Gen. 2:18) – equal as persons, not alike but complementary. So that in relating to each other, as male and female, one would complete the other as two halves coming together to be whole.
This complementarity between man and woman, as St. Pope John Paul II has pointed out, is observed and affirmed at the biological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels. But it is most manifest primarily in and through the union of two complementary bodies, male and female.
Simply put, human beings, created by God as either male or female, are meant to complement each other in a union of the two intended from their creation. And human sexuality, characterized as distinctly masculine or feminine, is ordered by nature towards that union, of one specifically with the other.
Having created man and woman, Scripture continues, God instituted marriage as the form of life in which the complementarity of man and woman would be fulfilled and perfected. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
And as it is ordered or directed to the union of man and woman, human sexuality is also ordered towards the procreation and education of children. It is in and through the conjugal union that God has willed to give man and woman a share in His work of creation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).
In the Creator’s plan we see, therefore, that sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage. In other words, marriage by its very nature and intention is unitive and procreative.
There are some men and women, however, often through no fault of their own, who find themselves sexually attracted to individuals of the same sex…Sexual attraction towards the same sex is not a sin. But it is, in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered – in the sense that it is not ordered towards the union of male and female in a relationship of natural complementarity.
Homosexual acts or practices that may arise from such attraction, although they may proceed from and be motivated by genuine affection between two persons of the same sex, are similarly not ordered to the union of the two persons and to the procreation of children.
Because they are not unitive and procreative – the distinct qualities of a complementary union of man and woman in marriage – homosexual acts or practices are “contrary to the natural law”. Hence, they are, from the perspective of natural law, gravely disordered and considered “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.
Those who find themselves sexually attracted to others of the same sex are called to develop chaste friendships with both men and women.
The Social Reality of Homosexual Unions
Over the past few years, in an increasing number of countries, including traditionally Catholic countries, homosexual unions have been granted legal recognition equal to that of marriage.
In our understanding of God’s creation of man and woman in complementarity and in His establishment of marriage, however, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family. A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called.
In response to this emerging social reality and for the guidance of the faithful, therefore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instructs:
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.
Concretely, this means that Catholics cannot participate in any way or even attend religious or legal ceremonies that celebrate and legitimize homosexual unions…Moreover, Catholics are called to resist all attempts to normalize homosexual behavior and homosexual unions in their culture….
…to homosexual individuals who are tempted either to pride or to despair, the Catholic Church is called to preach the power of grace through prayer and Holy Communion, and the mercy of Jesus Christ through the sacrament of penance.
It is Jesus Christ, and He alone, who can heal every broken human heart that yearns for unconditional love and authentic friendship. It is Jesus Christ, and He alone, who faithfully accompanies the homosexual person from grace unto glory. ∎
…The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”
The Nature of Homosexuality in the Created Order
Created either male or female, and by their masculine or feminine sexuality thus directed towards union with the other who complements them, men and women are naturally drawn and relate to each other in this order. (Continued on next page)