I once got into a discussion with someone about the following Catholic teaching on homosexuality:
This inclination [being attracted to the same sex]...is objectively disordered. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358)
The point of this teaching is that since homosexual activity is sinful, same-sex attraction is therefore an inclination to sin, and that can’t be anything but disordered.
That’s a reasonable chain of thought, but my interlocutor claimed that it was actually disrespectful of homosexuals and denied their full humanity. First, the person pointed out that everything God creates is good, and that includes human beings (Genesis 1:31). Next, they argued that if God creates some people homosexual rather than heterosexual, that must be good too. Consequently, if we say that God made them in an objectively disordered way, we’re denying their goodness as God’s creatures, and that’s tantamount to denying their full humanity.
There’s a lot of truth in this line of reasoning, and I’m sure a lot of people would find it very convincing. However, it overlooks a key teaching of our faith: original sin. See, the whole point of Christianity is that even though God did make the world good, Adam and Eve messed everything up when they committed the world’s first sin. Because of their transgression, the whole world was thrown out of whack, and that includes us, their descendants. As the New Testament puts it, “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19).
This means that when the Church calls homosexual inclinations “objectively disordered,” she’s not saying that homosexuality has a monopoly on this designation. Rather, because of original sin, we’re all objectively disordered. As a result of the Fall, we all have inclinations to commit various sins, and those inclinations are all disordered. Consequently, the Church’s teaching about homosexuality doesn’t denigrate homosexuals any more than the doctrine of original sin denigrates the entire human race.
Or look at it another way. Consider people who have potentially fatal congenital heart defects. Would we say that God wants them to be like that? Is it good that people have these conditions simply because God made them that way? Of course not! To be sure, such defects are very different from homosexuality, but they illustrate the key point here: not everything in our world is as it should be. Because of original sin, our nature is deeply flawed, so we can’t say that something is good just because certain people are born that way.
As a result, while it may be emotionally appealing to say that homosexuality has to be good because some people are made that way, that’s not a legitimate Christian way of looking at the issue. Instead, we have to compare homosexual inclinations to God’s intentions for humanity as revealed to us in Scripture and the Church’s Tradition. When we do that, we find that homosexual activity is sinful, so homosexual inclinations must be one of the many effects of original sin. And in that respect, homosexuals are no more disordered than anybody else.