Natural law has been used to restrict LGBTQ people

Natural law

Natural law has been used to restrict LGBTQ people, according to Fr James Alison, an influential Catholic priest, theologian and writer.

Alison (pictured) commented in a recent virtual conversation on the website ‘Outreach’ in its monthly series of virtual talks ‘Outspoken.’

In the conversation with Fr James Martin, SJ, Alison discussed natural law and conscience, important topics for all Catholics, but especially for LGBTQ Catholics who often face arguments against them using these concepts.

“The notion of natural law is something that is absolutely essential to Christianity,” Alison said.

But, he says, we must remember that part of what the Holy Spirit does is make us “participants, on a very small scale, in understanding what creation, which is much more than us, is actually about.”

But Alison noted that natural law has, unfortunately, been used in some cases primarily to restrict people, especially LGBTQ people.

However, homosexuality is now seen as what Alison calls a “non-pathological minority variant in the human condition.”

And from the moment it becomes clear that some people are bearers of this minority variant, “which is neither good nor bad,” their way of being is “going properly to flourish starting with that, instead of in spite of that.”

Becoming children of God

Alison also discussed conscience, emphasising that we are becoming children of God rather than mere servants. “I no longer call you servants…but friends,” as Jesus says in the Gospel (Jn 15:15).

Alison sees this as a fundamental insight.

We are, all of us, in the process of becoming children of God.

This doesn’t mean that we are perfect, but that we can learn to do things wrong and then do things better—much as a child might do under the care of a loving parent.

Alison said love plays a significant role in this process. “Love turns you into who you really are going to be,” he says.

In God’s eyes, “the ‘you who I’m calling you to be’ has to do with how you learn to give yourself away.”

Alison also spoke about what it means for LGBTQ people to encounter “discord” with some aspects of church documents and offered pastoral advice about how natural law and conscience can be understood in this context.


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