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Our readers asked:

What does St Paul say about homosexuality?

Joe Paprocki Answers:

Was St. Paul homophobic? Some people come to that unfortunate conclusion when reading some of his writings about homosexuality such as Romans 1:24-27; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; and 1Tim 1:10. In particular, it must be noted that, in the Greco-Roman world of which Paul was a part, it was not uncommon for boys or young men to be kept for the purposes of prostitution. When Paul refers to “Sodomites” (1Cor 6:9), he is referring to those adults who used such boys for their own sexual indulgence. Likewise, Paul’s references to these types of acts must be seen within his more general warnings against any kind of sexual promiscuity. In essence, Paul is warning about any actions that will lead to sexuality becoming idolatrous – i.e. people seeking their ultimate joy and meaning in sexuality per se.

Paul’s references to homosexual acts were not particularly controversial to early Christians who knew that the holiness code of Leviticus forbad homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13). Paul was merely reaffirming that which was held by faithful Jews and early Christians. We have no evidence that there was a movement afoot in Corinth to press for wider acceptance of same-sex activity. Paul does not single out homosexuality but refers to it within a list of other acts that were accepted as idolatrous but were now to be left behind by those who had chosen Jesus. So, although is not homophobic, he is clearly against any form of homosexual activity. Based on Scripture, the Catholic Church teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law.” (CCC 2357) At the same time, the Church teaches that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and that any sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC 2357)

The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Carol Leeda Crawford

    St. Paul was chosen by Christ when he was persecuting Jews who had chosen to follow Jesus. Christ knocked him off his horse, blinded him and then spoke to him. I often feel Jesus chose him because he was relentless and acted on what he believed to be true. Once Paul was baptized and received his sight he became an extraordinary apostle, my favourite. Scripture is clear regarding sexual immorality. I appreciate in Roman’s how he identifies the desire for same sex relations as the result of sin. I encourage those with the desires to choose not to act, and follow God’s law which leads to Eternal Life with God.

  • Myra Madeline

    Did Paul advocate homosexuality anywhere in the bible if an apostle or man of God could not control his sexual passion?

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