This is an article from an interview of one who is Catholic and gay. But I think it applies to all Christian religions and the faith and moral dilemma many are faced with. Please keep in mind these are not my words.
There is a basic contradiction. I completely concede that, at one level. At another level—and I confronted this, actually, with my first boyfriend, who was also Roman Catholic. When we had a fight one day, he said: “Do you really believe that what we are doing is wrong? Because if you do, I can’t go on with this. And yet you don’t want to challenge the church’s teaching on this, or leave the church.” And of course I was forced to say I don’t believe, at some level, I really do not believe that the love of one person for another and the commitment of one person to another, in the emotional construct which homosexuality dictates to us—I know in my heart of hearts that cannot be wrong. I know that there are many things within homosexual life that can be wrong—just as in heterosexual life they can be wrong. There are many things in my sexual and emotional life that I do not believe are spiritually pure, in any way. It is fraught with moral danger, but at its deepest level it struck me as completely inconceivable—from my own moral experience, from a real honest attempt to understand that experience—that it was wrong.
I experienced coming out in exactly the way you would think. I didn’t really express any homosexual emotions or commitments or relationships until I was in my early 20’s, partly because of the strict religious upbringing I had, and my commitment to my faith. It was not something I blew off casually. I struggled enormously with it. But as soon as I actually explored the possibility of human contact within my emotional and sexual makeup—in other words, as soon as I allowed myself to love someone—all the constructs the church had taught me about the inherent disorder seemed just so self-evidently wrong that I could no longer find it that problematic. Because my own moral sense was overwhelming, because I felt, through the experience of loving someone or being allowed to love someone, an enormous sense of the presence of God—for the first time in my life.
It is bizarre that something can occur naturally and have no natural end. I think it’s a unique doctrine, isn’t it? The church now concedes—although it attempts to avoid conceding it in the last couple of letters—but it has essentially conceded, and does concede in the new Universal Catechism….
That homosexuality is, so far as one can tell, an involuntary condition.
Yes, and that it is involuntary. The church has conceded this: Some people seem to be constitutively homosexual. And the church has also conceded compassion. Yet the expression of this condition, which is involuntary and therefore sinless—because if it is involuntary, obviously no sin attaches—is always and everywhere sinful! Well, I could rack my brains for an analogy in any other Catholic doctrine that would come up with such a notion. Philosophically, it is incoherent, fundamentally incoherent. People are born with all sorts of things. We are born with original sin, but that is in itself sinful—an involuntary condition, but it is sin.
You see it even in the documents. The documents will say, on the one hand compassion, on the other hand objective disorder. A document that can come up with this phrase, “not unjust discrimination,” is contorted because the church is going in two different directions at once with this doctrine. On the one hand, it is recognizing the humanity of the individual being; on the other, it is not letting that human being be fully human.
Technically, the church is asking gay people to live celibately.
Right. But let’s take that for a minute. Celibacy for the priesthood, which is an interesting argument and one with which I have a certain sympathy, is in order to unleash those deep emotional forces for love of God. Is the church asking this of gay people? I mean, if the church were saying to gay people, “You are special to us, and your celibacy is in order for you to have this role and that role and this final end,” or if the church had a doctrine of an alternative final end for gay people, then it might make more sense. It would be saying God made gay people for this, not for marriage or for children or for procreation or for emotional pairing, but He made gay people in order to—let’s say—build beautiful cathedrals or be witnesses to the world in some other way. But the church has no positive doctrine on this at all. You see, that would be a coherent position at some level—that, for some mysterious reason, God made certain people with full sexual and emotional capability and required them to sublimate that capability into other areas of life.
But, you see, I think the church, at the highest levels, does not believe this. I think that on this doctrine, more than many others actually, the church is suffering from a crisis of its own internal conviction. Because homosexuality is not a new subject for the Roman Catholic Church. It is not a distant subject. It is at the very heart of the hierarchy, so every attempt to deal with it is terrifying. But the fact of the matter is, if the church is to operate in the modern world, the conspiracy of silence is ending. So something has to be said. And the something that has to be said has to be coherent, or it will be exposed, as incoherence is always exposed.
What are the good and positive elements in the Catholic tradition that could lead us to a more coherent position?
Natural law! Here is something [homosexuality] that seems to occur spontaneously in nature, in all societies and civilizations. Why not a teaching about the nature of homosexuality and what its good is. How can we be good? Teach us. How does one inform the moral lives of homosexuals? The church has an obligation to all its faithful to teach us how to live and how to be good—which is not merely dismissal, silence, embarrassment or a “unique” doctrine on one’s inherent disorder. Explain it. How does God make this? Why does it occur? What should we do? How can the doctrine of Christian love be applied to homosexual people as well?
Interview: Andrew Sullivan on being openly gay and Catholic | America Magazine