369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240
There's no particular reason that different forms of disagreement with Church's understanding of human nature should be mutually consistent, and yet I can't help but be struck by the irony: in an era when some people are arguing that homosexual acts should be approved because gay and lesbian people are "born that way," other people (or occasionally the same people, just depending on whether the tides are high or low) are arguing that biological maleness and femaleness are basically irrelevant to what sort of people we are. To the latter camp, suggesting otherwise is the great sin of essentialism. "Biology is not destiny" was one of the classic feminist slogans.
Think about it.
We are sometimes asked, on the basis of far-from-conclusive evidence of "gay genes," to revise longstanding Church teaching on the morality of homosexual behaviour. It's simply not true that sexual "orientation" cannot be changed, even if most people's sexual tendencies remain relatively stable over time. But the significance of the incontrovertibly genetic matter of biological sex? So often, progressive folk both outside and within the Church treat differences between men and women as boiling down to culture and socialization. The fond hope is sometimes expressed that if nice gender-neutral models of behaviour are presented to kids at a young enough age, then the little ones may grow up to escape the trap of rigid gender roles. Well, funnily enough, most boys and girls, even when they've had hardly any time to be socialized into masculinity or femininity, still manage to display remarkably sex-specific behaviour patterns. (I'm not a parent, but I've attended a couple of birthday parties for four-year-olds.)
"Each for the other" - "A unity in two"
371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him."242 None of the animals can be man's partner.243 The woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."244 Man discovers woman as another "I", sharing the same humanity.
372 Man and woman were made "for each other" - not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be "helpmate" to the other, for they are equal as persons ("bone of my bones. . .") and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming "one flesh",245 they can transmit human life: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth."246 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator's work.247
Male and female God created us. The complementarity of the sexes is a gift. We'll discuss the main teachings on homosexuality some months from now (CCC 2357-2359), but for now it's important to point to how the moral law there in Part Three follows from the revelation of divine and human nature here in Part One. For many years I failed to understand this. The ol' Garden-of-Eden argument got nowhere with me. Adam and Eve might have been made to be complementary, for all I knew, but even if so, that story applied--I thought--to people with an essence different from mine. What Romans 1 says, though, even before Paul gets around to discussing homosexual perversion (1:26-27), is that the natural order is visible and knowable in light of natural reason (1:19-20). Man and woman were made for each other. This is not arbitrary; it's built into our flesh and bone.
More than could ever be the case for whatever mix of factors makes some people more prone than others to homosexual temptation: in the matter of maleness and femaleness, we are indeed born that way.
Note: I originally posted this on 3 June 2006 on the Catholic Catechism Discussion Blog. I was pleased to discover today that the contents of the CCDB are all archived online at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The bulk of the posts can be found by looking at the archive for 20 August 2006. For another application of the Wayback Machine, see the Sed Contra Archive, my way of helping readers access David Morrison's "Notes from a Life Lived Beyond Gay" blog.