Saint Thomas Aquinas on Homosexuality
Kevin Kukla | ProLife365.com
Suppose you genuinely wanted to know the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality. There is not much the bishops of the Church have publicly taught on the matter. That’s why I would refer anyone inquiring to look at Saint Thomas Aquinas on homosexuality, in order to get a good starting point on the topic.
After all, as the “Summer of Shame” of 2018 made clear, the Catholic clergy have not all been living up to their priestly vows. Their teaching authority on any moral matter, especially homosexuality, has taken a huge hit. When so many of the clergy are practicing this vice themselves, is it any wonder we have heard so little clear teaching on this topic in the last, say, 50 years?
Let me offer you two passages from Saint Thomas Aquinas on homosexuality that highlight just how depraved this vice remains. Aquinas here will be emphasizing how clearly homosexual activity violates human nature and the Natural Law. Though we certainly can, and we shall in a later post, we need not even cite the Bible, or a papal encyclical to learn whether homosexuality is morally repugnant. No, all we need in order to realize this is simply our human reason.
Saint Thomas describes homosexual activity as “most grave and shameful,” for it remains a sin “contrary to nature:”
“In every genus, worst of all is the corruption of the principle on which the rest depend. Now the principles of reason are those things that are according to nature, because reason presupposes things as determined by nature, before disposing of other things according as it is fitting… [I]n matters of action it is most grave and shameful to act against things as determined by nature. Therefore, since by the unnatural vices man transgresses that which has been determined by nature with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter this sin is gravest of all. After it comes incest, which… is contrary to the natural respect which we owe persons related to us. With regard to the other species of lust they imply a transgression merely of that which is determined by right reason, on the presupposition, however, of natural principles” (emphasis added, STh, II-II, q154, A12).
As well, for Saint Thomas Aquinas on homosexuality, the violation serves as a slap in the face to God. For, God created us humans with a sexual complementarity between the two sexes. Our reproductive systems and attractions, when ordered properly, work in harmony to literally produce the next generation of human beings. To not be able to reason to this with our human intellect is to lower ourselves to the level of mere mortal animals, or worse. After all, this violation not only rejects the gift of human sexuality God intended to give us, but it also forfeits the intellectual capacity God saw fit to give, as well. Saint Thomas describes it this way:
“Just as the ordering of right reason proceeds from man, so the order of nature is from God Himself: wherefore in sins contrary to nature, whereby the very order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature” (emphasis added, STh, II-II, q154, A12).
For Saint Thomas Aquinas on homosexuality, the moral matter clearly violates human reason. This remains the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Even if the modern-day clergy refuse to teach on the topic.
St. Thomas Aquinas:
Vices against Nature Are Also against God
"They (the sins against nature) are called passions of ignominy because they are not worthy of being named, according to that passage in Ephesians 5:12: ‘For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.’
"For if the sins of the flesh are commonly censurable because they lead man to that which is bestial in him, much more so is the sin against nature, by which man debases himself lower even than his animal nature" (Super Epistulas Sancti Pauli Ad Romanum I, 26, pp. 27-28).
In the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas explains that when the order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature, which makes the homosexual sin all the more grevious:
“Just as the order of right reason proceeds from man, so the order of nature is from God Himself: wherefore in sins contrary to nature, whereby the very order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature.
"Hence Augustine says (Confess. 3, 8): 'Those foul offenses that are against nature should be everywhere and at all times detested and punished, such as were those of the people of Sodom, which should all nations commit, they should all stand guilty of the same crime, by the law of God which had not so made men so that they should abuse one another.
"'For even that very relationship that should exist between God and us is violated, when that same nature, of which He is the Author, is polluted by the perversity of lust.'" (II, II, q. 154, a. 12)