These are not the same things.
I always told myself that I would not write a post that related in anyway to homosexuality. It’s a touchy subject and I don’t like getting on people’s bad side, but I think it’s necessary to try to explain the side of the Church as I see it. And really I think this post will be expandable to pretty much every other behavior that is considered sinful. So I apologize for stepping on any toes, but here it goes.
Tendency: a proneness toward a particular kind of thought or action.
Temptation: the state of being enticed especially to evil
Sin: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God
This is how Webster defines these words. They are not the same thing but are directly related to one another. Tendency is very much tied to who a person innately is. Everyone is born with a tendency to do things a certain way. They are drawn to particular things. For instance, I tend to want to be a people pleaser (the reason I was nervous about writing this post). This tendency sometimes tempts me in the direction of evil (though not always). Say I am shopping with a friend and she tries on a horrible outfit and asks me if it looks good on her. My tendency to want to please others might tempt me to lie to her and say, “Yes! It looks fabulous!” so as to not hurt her feelings. Now up to this point, I have not sinned. If I utter that lie, then I have sinned. The tendency itself is not a sin. Being tempted is not a sin. We’re all tempted everyday by things around us. Acting on the temptation is a sin. The Church just asks us all to practice self control and resist our tendencies when they tempt us to sin. It doesn’t matter what the tendency is. No matter how big or small it may seem.
Now I’ll just expand a little bit on what sin is before I get to the main point of this post. Sin is anything that estranges us from God. Sin is when we act against God’s will. God created us in a certain way and later gave us rules, through Moses, to help us live in a fashion that would make life as enjoyable as it could be, for everyone. If you look at the 10 commandments, they all make sense. Do not steal. Do not murder. Do not sleep with someone else’s husband or wife. These are all things that will make life with others more pleasant. Things like homosexuality and contraception (not to be expanded on in this post) were also condemned at other points in time. Not necessarily because they would cause trouble for the community (though it certainly could), but more because He knows how we were created and these acts go against that. He knows the purpose of sex and relationships between people and made these rules to help us live according to how we were created and therefore to have the most abundant life. But silly us, we think we know better than God. And now the Church is here trying to show us the way back to God and His will.
So, you have a tendency to be attracted to members of the same sex. We can’t always control who we are attracted to. I get that. I’ve personally found myself attracted to people and no matter how hard I try, I can’t make myself unattracted to them. The Church gets that. But the Church doesn’t ask me to do that. They simply ask me not to act inappropriately on that attraction. The tendency to be attracted to someone doesn’t become a problem until we decide to give into the temptation to act on that attraction. And when we act on it in a manner that contradicts the way God intended things to be, the way He created us to live, then we have sinned. So the Church does not hate homosexuals even though they have a tendency to be attracted to their same sex, or even though they act on that attraction, as many people like to think. Rather the Church teaches against homosexual behavior. Just as any good parent does not dislike their child when they misbehave, the Church does not dislike the homosexual. And just as any good parent would teach their child the proper way to behave, the Church does the same with God’s children. The Church does not ask the homosexual to change who they are and date members of the opposite sex. They just ask them to exercise self control and resist the temptations, just as any unmarried couple is asked to resist premarital sex, or any kleptomaniac is asked to resist thievery, etc. This is my feeble attempt to explain the Church’s stance. But here is something written by a Catholic man who can explain it far better than I can, as he is gay and practices by the Church’s teaching. He even has a blog.
The Church and God do not hate tendencies. But they do hate sin. These are not the same thing. The Church and God do not dislike people. But they do dislike some behaviors. It’s up to each of us if we will act against God or with Him. We don’t answer to each other, but to Him. I can’t force you to act a certain way or to accept God’s loving laws, but I can (and will) pray that you will find the love of God and your place that is being lovingly held in His Church. And I can try to tell you to the best of my ability what the Church teaches and why. Because anyone who truly loves will try to save someone if they see them walking into danger. It’s not always appreciated by the other person, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
ADDDENDUM I know that a lot of people don’t even believe in God or at least not that He’s loving and all that mushy stuff the Church says about Him. And there’s where I struggle with sharing these things. How do I show someone that God really is loving and that these moral teachings really are for our best when they refuse to believe them? How do I say, “no, you can’t do this or that” when they don’t have the same foundation of beliefs? Do I continue to try to show them the light? Or do I live and let live after I’ve tried to no avail? God gave the world up to its sins when it refused to listen to Him. Do I do the same with those around me? I suppose the best I can do is my life by example, in joy and a manner that is pleasing to God. And to pray for those around me. Any thoughts?