Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC, is most well-known for his presence on social media (@FrMatthewLC) where he has over 60,000 followers. Ordained in 2013, he is currently studying graduate theology and living in the Archdiocese of Washington.
I can’t believe I have to write this. Unfortunately, some people think this is an open question or want to imply Jesus might have had same-sex attraction. The most recent example:
Austen Ivereigh tweeted, “Por qué dices que nuestro Señor no tenía tendencias homosexuales? De qué signos o dichos o gestos deduces esto?” (English: Why do you say our Lord had no homosexual tendencies? By what signs or gestures do you deduce this?)
Fr. Straub responded, “This is very scandalous and possibly a heresy. You need to remove this tweet and confess your sin. Lord, have mercy.”
I waited, as I didn’t want to rashly post a reply while Ivereigh repented. But 48 hours after, that tweet was still up. It got quite ratioed, with Fr. Straub getting 90 likes and Ivereigh only 2 likes.
I find this topic awkward to talk about but I think with all the things going around today, someone needs to clarify it. I hope the following is helpful to you.
I want to present two arguments. Both begin with Jesus as the perfect man. The first then moves on to the nature of human sexuality and the latter to the nature of human interpersonal relationships.
Jesus is the Perfect Man
In the Gospels, Jesus is shown to be the perfect man. Theology and the Catechism teach us that he is so. This is not just that he was without sin; he also possessed other aspects of human perfection. Every attribute of mankind, he had in a perfect degree. Artists have over-portrayed this: most images of Jesus tend to give him a perfect physique and the most handsome face that culture can imagine. This is a proper use of art to show externally what is internal. Every ounce of Jesus was the ideal man.
Obviously, some things in mankind can be good or bad circumstantially, such as the different temperaments. I think Jesus would have had some perfect mix of such traits proper to his mission.
The Perfection of Human Sexuality
Human sexuality is designed for its proper use in marriage. It is brought to perfection, that is consummated, through the marital act. Both the unitive and procreative aspects perfect it. Foregoing marriage for the sake of the kingdom — religious life and priesthood — can also bring it to perfection.
However, homosexual tendencies can never be brought to such perfection. They always remain with a certain degree of imperfection. All humans except Jesus have some aspect that leaves imperfection so this is not a condemnation of people with such tendencies living celibately. Such acts cannot be marital acts. Also, if a homosexual lives celibacy, they are not giving up marriage in the same way as others, as marriage was never what they were drawn to anyways.
A heterosexual tendency is also impossible to be brought to perfection if it is toward one who can never be the person’s spouse. For example, when I was in college I was actively looking for a wife so I could morally consider some young women there as possible wives. Although such attraction is primarily in other realms (she has a sweet personality and we get along), marriage includes sexual acts. However, once I professed final vows in a religious community, I could no longer look at young women as potential wives. Likewise, a married man can perfect his desires for human sexuality toward his wife but not toward a movie star.
Thus, although both often lead to sin, there is a difference in perfection. A heterosexual tendency can be brought to perfection in marriage where it is exercised in marital acts, or consecrated celibacy where it is perfected by that consecration, while a homosexual tendency can never be perfectly realized.
Jesus Had No Same-Sex Attraction
Given that Jesus was the perfect man and there is a certain imperfection of homosexual desire compared to heterosexual desire, Jesus would not have had any sexual desires toward other men.
The story of the temptations in the desert in the Gospel shows us Jesus was tempted in a different way and had a perfect resolve against sin. He may have been so strongly resolved in his chastity that he did not even have heterosexual tendencies in the way we’d usually speak of that – we don’t know – but we do know he had no homosexual tendencies. In fact, the second argument makes it likely he didn’t suffer such temptations the way most people do.
As Jesus was perfect, all Jesus’ relationships with men and women, all his thoughts, desires, and urges where perfectly in line with his burning love for the Father and his desire to serve men and women. Nothing about what he desired would have been selfish. He came to earth to love his own who were in the world (cf. John 13:1), not himself.
If his love was so directed and his celibacy so consecrated, even strong tendencies toward marital love would have been unlikely. He knew he came to save all humanity, and focusing on a specific family would have distracted him from that mission. With such a strong movement away from tendencies that could be ordered in most people, directly disordered sexual tendencies – be they homosexual or non-marital heterosexual – would have been even less likely. They are almost unimaginable given his mission. I cannot find a single action that indicated a homosexual tendency or even effeminacy, which is often associated with homosexuality.
In 2005, when the Vatican reaffirmed the rule that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the seminary or ordination, they implied this. This rule is not primarily about abuse or pastoral issues. This rule is about how the priest acts in persona Christi, and Christ had no sexual desires toward men.