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Sexual Ethics

We are working toward a profound assessment of our sexual expression within the context of our spirituality. Struggling with difficult questions — even with the lack of clarity and certainty is for us life-affirming. This is why we commit ourselves to wrestling with the unresolved questions in the light of Gospel values.

We believe we share a vital role in formulating a sexual ethic comprehensive enough to apply to all persons. Our part is to ensure that the lesbian and gay experience of sexuality and genitality is represented. We must speak of what we know, and we must learn together with our heterosexual brothers and sisters what Christ is teaching Christians.

We must continue to identify the values that are expressed or sought in the sharing of this life-affirming sexual ethic and to clarify them in the light of the Gospel. We invite gay and lesbian Christians to consider their experience and to correct or validate what we say here. Much of what we have shared about our experience and our convictions is not yet complete, and so we invite the members of our community to continue their exploration of sexual ethics.

We can tolerate diversity. Nevertheless, we must explore together and learn from one another about issues of justice and morality. That includes such areas of serious ethical concern as pornography, prostitution, sex with minors, multiple partners, anonymous sex, bondage and discipline, and how to have sex safely. We cannot shy away from controversy if we are genuinely trying to see Christ in the sacramental reality of our lives.

The authors of Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, a study commissioned by The Catholic Theological Society of America, identify seven significant values in sexual behavior which promote "creative growth and human integration." We offer questions based on these values with the hope that they may be helpful as we continue to seek growth as sexual Christians and especially as we discuss areas of controversy:

SELF-LIBERATING: Does it express one's authentic self and wholesome self—interest as a source and means of growth toward maturity? Does it enslave the self with bonds of compulsion and selfishness?

OTHER-ENRICHING: Does it express a generous interest in, and concern for, others' well-being? Does it coerce or violate another person or show cruelty?

HONEST: Does it express the real relationship that exists? Does it seduce and manipulate behind a facade of pretense?

FAITHFUL: Does it express a consistent pattern of interest and concern that can grow deeper and richer? Does it refuse to let intimacy grow?

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE: Does it express a realization of relationship to wider communities and of service to their interests? Does it contribute to an atmosphere of exploitation or depersonalization?

LIFE-SERVING: Does it express a willingness to share and promote life as well as fulfill one's own needs? Does it allow a relationship to become a mutual or shared selfishness?

JOYOUS: Does it express appreciation for the gift of life and the mystery of love? Does it weaken the other person's self-esteem or ability to enjoy sex and relationships?

A new pattern of sexual life is developing in our world, one that is more human and humane, in tune with people's experience. We want to help ensure that the new pattern is balanced with responsibility and recognition of the value of intimacy.