Pope Francis: God made you like that

News report: Gay Man Says Pope Francis Told Him, ‘God Made You Like That And Loves You Like That’.

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, the fact that you’re gay doesn’t matter. God made you like that, and he loves you like that, and I don’t care,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El Pais, recalling his two-and-half-hour conversation with the pontiff.

My Commentary

The expression “God made you like that,” meaning that God made this man to have a homosexual orientation, does not imply that people are born gay. The Pontiff could have meant that the experiences of this man’s life occurred under the providence of God, and in this sense God made the man to have a homosexual orientation as part of his character. God did not specifically choose that this man should be gay, but rather, the providence of God saw fit to permit this disorder because of the good that occurs when faithful souls cooperate with grace in overcoming the difficulties of this fallen life.

It is also possible that the Pope thinks that some persons are born gay. And he might be right, or partially right, on that point. Perhaps there are genetic influences on sexual orientation. If so, then we could say that God has made some persons to be gay, in the sense that His providence permits that disorder. For we are all fallen sinners, conceived with original sin and subject to this fallenness that permit us to have imperfections and faults.

I know it is not politically correct to say this, but it is the teaching of the Church. The homosexual orientation is a disorder, and homosexual acts (i.e. sexual acts between persons of the same sex) are gravely immoral. The orientation is a disorder since it is ordered toward those acts. But God permits many disorders to afflict the faithful in this life.

Are some persons born gay? My opinion is that homosexuality is a result of a number of factors. There might be some genetic factors, but I don’t think these are determinate, only an influence. Then a person’s experiences in life have an effect along with the decisions each person makes. And, for any particular person, the greater influence might be genetic, or it might be early or later life experiences, or even personal decisions.

The varying causes of sexual orientation are proposed by Jesus:

[Matthew]
{19:10} His disciples said to him, “If such is the case for a man with a wife, then it is not expedient to marry.”
{19:11} And he said to them: “Not everyone is able to grasp this word, but only those to whom it has been given.
{19:12} For there are chaste persons who were born so from their mother’s womb, and there are chaste persons who have been made so by men, and there are chaste persons who have made themselves chaste for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever is able to grasp this, let him grasp it.”

The saying is applied to chastity, but it could be applied also to any orientation regarding sexuality: the factors are birth (genetics), the influence of others (whether earlier or later in life), and one’s own decisions. For we all have free will.

And since we have free will, no one can say that they are justified in engaging in homosexual sexual acts or any other sexual sins supposedly because God made them that way. Even if God permitted a genetic influence, or permitted the influence of others, the person has free will, and therefore he or she can choose to cooperate with grace and thereby avoid committing sexual sins.

God’s grace enables us to understand right from wrong, enables us to make truly free decisions, even in contradiction to faults found in our fallen human nature, and prompts us to live a chaste and loving life. God’s grace works in our lives to help us to be good and to do good.

Pope Francis said nothing wrong here. He merely acknowledges what Christ also acknowledges, the influence of varying factors on sexuality and the call from God to be chaste, according to one’s state of life.

See also this article at CatholicPlanet.net, discussing Michael Voris’ take on the comments.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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23 Responses to Pope Francis: God made you like that

  1. Matt says:

    Ron,
    What do you mean that ‘God permits many disorders to afflict the faithful in this life.’

    • Ron Conte says:

      Physical disorders, mental or psychological disorders, unfortunate circumstances, sufferings, etc. I would say that God permits some persons to have a gay orientation, as one of many difficulties or disorders. How you respond is what matters. Gay persons are called to lifelong chastity.

  2. Jeff says:

    Your commentary is well spoken, reinforcing the teachings of the church while providing biblical insights that are applicable. Many will probably disagree. We don’t know why some are homosexual, some people just are, despite many theories over the years as to why. Pope Francis provides clarity on this which many will conversely say is ambiguity, especially given how difficult and challenging life can be for someone who is gay. It’s not a choice like what to have for lunch or where to go on vacation, and as children of God, homosexuals are loved too and in the struggle for salvation just like the rest of us. We will fall, but we must get up and carry on. I think that is the essence of the popes message as it pertains to homosexuality, with the understanding that although active behavior is disordered, the human person is still created in God’s image and subsequently just as subject to salvific grace as a non homosexual is.

  3. Jay says:

    Ron–doesn’t the fact that it seems that you have to constantly write a column explaining the pope’s actions make him more than a little problematic?

  4. Mark P. says:

    I disagree that God would make a person gay to any degree, because this belief would imply that God made a mistake by creating someone with an inclination to possibly behave in a sinful manner. So it is not equivalent to say that God permits blindness, or deafness, or certain other medical or mental disorders with saying that God made somebody gay. A gay person by definition has an unnatural attraction to someone of the same sex, and therefore is orienting the use of their reproductive organs to an immoral end. But a blind person desires their eyes to see, a deaf person desires their ears to hear, and those with other medical or mental issues desire, and are helped to, orient their faculties, use of organs, etc. to their proper use. A person’s blindness or deafness, even if they are born with it, does not directly tempt them to behave in a sinful manner. I agree with you in the sense that, perhaps through secondary causes such as upbringing, influence by society, environment, etc. a person can have gay inclinations which requires the use of their will to remain chaste. But God’s design of the reproductive relations between a man and a woman, and their use of such in the sacrament of marriage, is clear throughout Scripture, so to admit that God would purposely design this condition is contrary to His own Word.

    That being all said, I do not think that the words reported by the media were the actual words said by Mr. Juan Carlos. They were either mistranslated, exaggerated, taken out of context, or at worst made up whole cloth.

    • Francisco says:

      Mark P.

      Interesting point, but the same can be said for people born with infirmities, mental or physical, that God creates people with blindness, cleft lip, and other body or mental deformities so that they cannot enjoy a normal life and thus start cursing God for those reasons. As a matter of fact, we all are born with infirmities one way or the other (some greater than others) due to original sin. We all are born with concupiscence, tendency towards sin. In the case of homosexuality, – IF – they are born that way, it would be another type of irregularity but the tendency is not sinful by itself. The free knowingly choice of the homosexual act is a sin. So they are called to chastity. If Christian values were taught at all homes, teaching children the Word of God (as it should be and is the ideal (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)), even if there are children born with homosexual tendencies, they can become virtuous for the glory of God.

      Jesus responded why a blind man was born that way and it can also be applied for all people born with greater, more noticeable infirmities, Jesus responded: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but it was so that the works of God would be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3).

    • Francisco says:

      I meant above, the homosexual tendency is not a sin.

  5. Mark P. says:

    Francisco, thank you for the reply but I respectfully disagree with you. The blind or deaf person may curse God because they do not have the full or proper use of their eyes or ears. Therefore, they would use an act of will to curse God because of the suffering caused by the deprivation of their senses. However, in and of themselves, blindness and deafness do not cause someone to be inclined towards sin. If we propose that God intentionally designed homosexuality, then we are saying that God is tempting that person toward a disordered use of their reproductive faculties. Would we say that God designed someone to commit adultery or be inclined toward polygamy?

    The more appropriate analogy would be to say that a person was born with sight and desired to be blind, or a person was born with the faculty of hearing and desired to be deaf. They would desire the opposite intention of the proper use of their organs to produce the intended, designed senses.

    With either of these other tendencies (adultery or polygamy), I highly doubt one would propose that God would design somebody intentionally to be inclined towards them. Because the proper relations between men and women, as taught in Scripture and Tradition, is a monogamous relationship in a sacramental marriage for the purpose of procreation. So to propose God would create someone as an adulterer, for instance, would be contrary to His own design. That person would not have much of a “free will” to resist their temptation.

    Sexual immorality is against God’s commandments. There is no commandment saying that one must be able to see or one must be able to hear. That is what the difference is. Jesus did not tell the blind man to “go and sin no more” when He healed him; however, those were His words to the adulteress. He did not heal the adulteress, he forgave her and commanded her to sin no more.

    • Francisco says:

      Mark,

      What about concuspicense, that too is ‘an inclination to possibly behave in a sinful manner’ as you originally put it above, and we’re all born with concuspicense due to original sin. But this inclination towards sin, is not a sin in itself, it becomes a sin when we consent to it. The Word of God reaffirms that adultery is a mortal sin, but just because a person has a tendency to commit adultery, doesn’t make it ok to commit adultery and that can be the same with any other sinful or unnatural inclination. So if some people are born with homosexual orientation, that would be a type of concuspicense resulting from original sin. That would be a Cross for those people since they are called to chastity, and after all we are all called to carry our Crosses.

    • Mark P. says:

      Francisco, I agree with some of your points but this topic is so misunderstood in our society that any claims that the Church makes about it must be made carefully. We are all born as children of Adam, fallen, and inclined toward sin. But we can use our faith, reason, and will to overcome the temptations to commit those sins. Some may be born with a deprivation of senses, but in and of themselves, those deprivations are not evil. The blind person should realize, through reason, that his eyes were meant to see. The man addicted to sexual conquests of women, through faith and reason, should realize that he is leading a sinful life. He is to control his passions, as they are disordered in their end (as he is seeking only pleasure) but are nonetheless natural as he is attracted to women. So the question ultimately is apart from concupiscence. This original post by Ron has to do with “God’s design” or if God “made” people a certain way. God designed our bodies, each organ, for a specific purpose. And in all His power and knowledge, He knew what He was doing. He designed the male and female reproductive organs with a purpose, and the natural relationship is to have the two sexes attracted to each other for the purpose of procreation. So it is erroneous to think that God intentionally designed people to be inclined towards unnatural behavior. Now, I would agree that God obviously permits temptations of all sorts, and that temptations of the flesh are the most common. But permitting an unnatural inclination and designing it are different things.

      Ultimately, what we should arrive at, is the recognition that such inclinations are indeed unnatural. Only in this sense can homosexual inclinations be equated with blindness or deafness, because then, just as blindness is considered a deprivation of sight, then homosexuality would be considered a deprivation of one’s proper attraction to the opposite sex and one’s intended use of their reproductive faculties.

      In the Gospel passage of the blind man that you quoted above, the works of God are manifest through the blind person because others were aware of his plight: they recognized that he was deprived of a sense, and through works of charity helped him to life as normal a life as possible. And he may have served as an inspiration to those around him through is own perseverance despite his disability. And that still continues in this day and age.

      I will pose one final question – and again, I am focusing on God’s design, not just of our intellect and will, but of the human body itself. What if we were to blend the story of the blind man and the story of the woman caught in adultery, and say that Jesus encountered a gay man who had engaged in unnatural relations? Would He heal him like the blind man? Would He forgive him and tell him to sin no more, like He did for the woman? Or would He do both? My opinion is that, considering the role of God in designing our bodies, and recognizing an unnatural inclination not only as a disordered passion but as a deprivation of its natural and proper use, He would have healed and forgiven.

  6. Matt Z. says:

    We can say that God allows for someone to have evil inclinations, but we cannot say God makes evil inclinations because that would go against the nature of God. God can only create good and has made us all good! It was because of original sin that evil entered our world, but that wasnt caused by God but our own free choice to do evil instead of good.

    To say that there is a same sex attraction gene would mean that there would have to be all sorts of other sinful and disordered genes. I can’t see this being true and if it is, it still isnt made by God. Mark, I like your comparison with physical abnormalities and disordered inclinations.

    We dont know the context in which the Pope spoke, he could have meant, “this is what God is giving you to deal with, this is your cross,” and the man could have falsely taken it as God made him that way.

    Abortion allowed in Ireland and homosexuality spread across the globe, I’m wondering if we are living in the end times now?

    • Marco says:

      “To say that there is a same sex attraction gene would mean that there would have to be all sorts of other sinful and disordered genes. I can’t see this being true”

      What about those children, who are stile under the age of reason and don’t have any sexual desire, who behave like they are of the opposite sex (for example a little male children who acts like a little girl)?

      Did they make a willfull choice as well?

    • Marco says:

      And mind you, in that case we aren’t talking about sexual temptations, since these children, obviously, are too young to feel any sexual impulse.

  7. Matt Z. says:

    Children pick up actions from other children. They are figuring themselves out at these stages and realizing the difference in genders. Its good to have a solid family, mother and father sisters and brothers, giving good example of strong genders. Its sick to say that a normal child under the age of reason are somehow knowingly acting like a homosexual. And if they do act in this way it is because of original sin or the sin and conditioning of the world.

  8. Matt Z. says:

    If we say there are sinful genes then we say that they are physically built in, and the person has no choice, which simply isn’t true. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a person who suffers from an inclination to any type of sin can be protected even from the temptation and inclination from that sin(not all temptation), for a period of time or throughout ones life by cooperation with Gods grace and practice of the virtues. If we say people have a gene there would be no hope of this. I have read that certain people have more of an inclination of one sin to the other, but not because of a physical gene.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think that genes may predispose some persons to certain sins. A person might have genes that make them more or less sociable, or even tempered, or prone to anger, or prone to certain emotions, etc. A person might have genes that make them more likely to fall into alcoholism. Genes in fallen human persons can have an influence toward behaviors that are sinful. And we all have concupiscence, which influences toward selfishness and sin in general.

      But I’m not saying that persons are born gay, but rather that some are born with a tendency toward that disorder. It is a question of genetic influences; it is not determinant.

    • Marco says:

      “But I’m not saying that persons are born gay, but rather that some are born with a tendency toward that disorder. It is a question of genetic influences; it is not determinant.”

      I agree with this, the only problem i have is that the children i was talking about behaved like female entrapped in a male body. And there certainly wasn’t malice in them, since they hadn’t reached the age of reason yet.

      I don’t know how to explain these things. What do you think about it? We aren’t talking about sinning here, we are talking about something very weird, as it seems to entail a kind of mind/body dualism which i don’t know how much compatible is with our doctrine.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A lot of this is due to parents and other persons encouraging behaviors of the opposite gender, and not encouraging gender appropriate behavior. Some of this is also due to society itself, not providing clear role models. Broken families may also be a contributing factor. But there may also be genetic influences, which are not determinant.

  9. Matt Z. says:

    Ron, when you say, “A person might have genes that make them more or less sociable, or even tempered, or prone to anger, or prone to certain emotions, etc. A person might have genes that make them more likely to fall into alcoholism.”

    Could there be a difference though since same sex attraction would be a disordered inclination that goes against nature. Although someone may have a disposition of anger, anger is a passion and in itself is not a disordered inclination that goes against nature. To say that we have genes that are disordered toward same sex attraction would mean to say that people have a physical gene directly going against our masculinity or femininity. If this were true, would not all people some sort of disordered gene? Why would it only be a select few? Would there be a gene of beasteality?

    With all this said, God doesnt make sinful inclinations or disorders. Sinful inclinations or disorders could be results of original sin or the results of conditioning of a sinful world. We must still fight against sin and evil desires.

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, I don’t think there is a gene that makes someone gay. I think genes influence biochemical pathways, which have effects on behavior, indirectly. There’s no “gay gene”, but some genes may have some influence on susceptibility to that disorder.

  10. Matt Z. says:

    Thanks Ron, that makes sense. Then there is a difference between physical evil, spiritual evil, and moral evil. Its funny, I looked this up and came to your forums. Are you still active on these forums?
    http://www.catholicplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2401

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