What Causes Same-Sex Attraction? Catholic Newspaper: “The Devil”
The oldest Catholic newspaper in the US published and quickly retracted an article that suggested that same-sex attraction is caused by Satan. The logic went like this:
Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart. […] When natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God.
The newspaper quickly withdrew the article, stating that there was a “theological error.”
My sense is that the Catholic Church officially takes the same position the Mormon Church does. Homosexual acts are chosen, whereas homosexual attraction is not (though it can be “fought against”). General temptation is caused by Satan, but on the question of the “origin” of homosexual attraction/temptation specifically, both Catholic and Mormon officials draw blanks. So, what they do is just keep categorizing homosexual acts with other evil things like burglary and murder. Occasionally, I guess, a lone official ventures out on his own.
What I found interesting in this article is how the word “natural” is used to describe homosexual attraction: the idea of “natural causes disturbing typical development.” There’s an acknowledgement that although homosexual attraction is perhaps atypical, this does not mean it is “unnnatural.” This is different than a few decades ago, when the stance of both the Catholic and Mormon Churches was that homosexuality generally — feelings and acts — were unnatural.
Conservative religious leaders are being pushed by their constituencies to provide answers to “why is there homosexual attraction,” given how much the issue is in everyday discourse. It’s difficult to condemn same-sex marriages if one’s mythology is shaky about why some people’s love is actually evil in disguise.
Although Mormon leaders have not answered the question for pre-life, they have for the afterlife. They’ve asserted that knowing the “cause” of same-sex attraction is not as important as not transgressing. They know same-sex attraction disappears in the afterlife because “logic” makes that clear. Of course if you begin with the premise that everyone in Heaven is heterosexual because…you… believe this to be true…then, I guess it logically follows that same-sex attraction wouldn’t exist in the afterlife.
This seems like the same “logic” that told church leaders in the 1970s that they knew same-sex attraction could be overcome if a person was strong-willed enough. It’s not so much logic as it is ungrounded heterosexist belief. Still, they are forced create an alternative discourse for their constituencies in the face of a culture that increasingly answers the “why” question with, “What difference does it make? Love is love.”