Homosexuality is a sexual orientation in which feelings of love and sexual desire are experienced exclusively or primarily towards persons of one’s own gender. Based on the companionship of man and woman oriented solely towards procreation and mutual aid in keeping with God’s plan of Creation (Gen 1.28; 2.18‑24), in the Bible and in the Christian tradition, albeit on the strength of different rationales, homosexuality is nonetheless assessed negatively throughout. Whereas homosexual practices were condemned in the Old Testament for being incompatible with the cult of Yahweh (Gen 19.1‑11; Lev 18.22) and for Paul they were the consequence and indeed the symbol of a world that had turned away from God and was the twisted (Rom 1.26 f.), in Christian Antiquity and the Middle Ages, they are classified and branded as in contravention of nature. Today’s distinction conventional today between homosexual behaviour and homosexual inclinations is still foreign to this theological assessment. More recent research in the human sciences, however, has clearly determined that homosexual behaviour is, as a rule, based on a tendency that is not the result of some psychopathological development in gender identity, but that, alongside heterosexuality, it instead represents an anthropologically given basic disposition of human sexuality. What this also means, however, is: the homosexual orientation is not something an individual has freely chosen. Unable to change this orientation, he or she can only deal with it in an ethically responsible fashion. Just what such a responsible approach should look like is the object of the contemporary theological-ethical discussion. The teachings of the Catholic and of parts of the Protestant Church plead for the path of abstinence. These teachings emphasise that while the inclination of the homosexual person itself is not something sinful, the homosexual activities in which this inclination can result are, as they lack an orientation around the procreation of new life. In view of the variety of meanings of human sexuality, however, more and more theologians advocate integration of the homosexual orientation and practice in a lasting life partnership between two individuals of the same gender. On the one hand, compared to heterosexuality, homosexuality represents a limit to the development of human existence by eliding the enrichment of exposure to the opposite gender and the procreation of new life. On the other hand, though, homosexual individuals living in a partnership with a member of the same gender can experience security, acceptance and confirmation in ways that are certainly important to their personal development. Decisive here is not a person’s sexual orientation but rather the measure of mutual love and willingness to accept responsibility.
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