All Analogies limp if you take them further than they are intended to go. It’s easy to look at them overly critically instead of evaluate the point they are trying to make. I ask you to keep that in mind, and avoid trying to read more into my own analogy than I intend to be there.
One of the first things we need to understand is that, in the eyes of the Church, having an inclination is not the same thing as an act. The fact that a person has an inclination that attracts them to behavior that is called sinful is not their fault, and the Church does not condemn a person for having an inclination. However, what a person chooses to do with that inclination can be assessed as doing good or evil. In other words, it is not the attraction that is sinful, but how one chooses to act in response to that attraction.
Comparisons and Those Offended By Them
Trying to create an example to illustrate how this works can be different. Whenever someone tries to use an example of an attraction that everyone recognizes as wrong, someone will invariably make the wrong connection and think this example is being used to say that “same sex attraction is just as bad as X.” But that’s to miss the point of such analogies. The point isn’t to fix same sex attraction on a chart to say it is the moral equivalent of something. The point is to demonstrate that just because someone has an inclination to certain behavior, doesn’t mean it is allowable to act on that inclination.
It’s a crucial point, but it is usually misunderstood. The real point to be understood is this: When a person has an inclination towards a behavior that has been condemned by God as being against His will, the obligation of the person with this inclination is to resist the inclination and avoid behaviors which put us in opposition to God. That’s not always an easy thing to do of course, and it is possible for a person with a compulsive behavior to lack the full free will to resist a sinful act, and thus not be totally responsible for the act they commit. That is something for the confessor to determine. However, even if a compulsion means that the individual who commits a sinful act is not fully in control of themselves (and therefore not guilty of a mortal sin), that does not mean that no wrong was done. The act is still wrong and still needs to be resisted.
That’s why we can say that the Catholic Church does not hate people with a same sex attraction. She is compassionate for them and wishes to help them live in a way compatible with what God calls us to be.
The Analogy of Diabetes
Think of it like a condition like diabetes. There are different types. Some are genetic (Type I), and some are brought on by living in ways that are not the best (Type II). Either way, you go to the doctor and ask him if it’s fatal. “No,” he replies. “But" (and you knew that was coming), “you will need to make some changes to your lifestyle and not give into the cravings you have for certain things.” (I’m sure some will get offended here, saying “OMG! He’s comparing same sex attraction to a disease!” But that is to miss the point of this comparison).
In such a case, it makes no sense to get angry with the doctor. Sure, you could storm out of his/her office and refuse to listen to his opinions—but the fact is, if you live in a way which meets your desires, the result is going to be harmful to you, and perhaps eventually fatal. So to live and stay healthy, we have to make some changes and avoid things that are harmful to us.
A disordered attraction is like that. People can’t gratify certain desires that come from this attraction because those desires are harmful for our spiritual health and can turn out to be fatal to our soul. Some people have said, “I didn’t ask to be gay.” I’m sure that’s true. And I didn’t ask to be diabetic. But since we have these things, we have to make changes to our lives that prevent us from doing some things that others can do—in my case, no super triple hot fudge sundaes (because of my body desires something harmful for me), in the case of a person with a same sex attraction, no sexual activity (because it involves acts with a person of the same gender—which is harmful for the moral life). Sure, we can choose to engage in behaviors which are harmful to us, but in my case, the result is going to be an elevated blood sugar level, and in the case of the person with same sex attraction, the result is going to be sin that alienates us from God.
Don’t Blame the Physician for the Diagnosis
In such cases, it is foolish to deny the problem and insist that things be changed for us. The government can coerce the FDA to declare that triple chocolate ice cream is OK for diabetics and the government can coerce businesses, and perhaps eventually churches, to say same sex “marriage” is a right. But in both cases, such government decrees would have no authority to change reality, and a person who believed them over the ones qualified to make the decision would wind up in bad shape very quickly.
Is it hard? Of course. And it’s much harder for the person with a same sex attraction (who knows they can never have a married life the way their inclination leads them to desire) than it is for me (who has to cut back on the carbs and the sugar). But this isn’t a violation of our “civil rights.” It’s a case of our having to live differently so we don’t do physical or moral harm to ourselves.
The doctor tells me “No.” The Church tells the person with the same sex attraction “No.” If we ignore these instructions, we will do ourselves harm—perhaps fatally.
So, it makes no sense to blame the Church for teaching that same sex genital activity is gravely disordered. All the Church does in any of her moral teachings is to be the physician, and try to let us know what is harmful. Just like the doctor who desires our physical health, the Church desires our spiritual and moral health, and the warnings are not out of hatred or personal opinion. They’re out of love for us and the desire for us to be spiritually well, spending our eternity with God..