The Namibian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (NCBC), hereby, would like to uphold and
reiterate the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality and on same sex marriage,
basing on Biblical teachings, religious traditions and natural law. This teaching can be
summarized as human beings are created male and female, equal as persons and
complementary as sexual beings and that marriage is legal union of one man and one woman,
for the good of the spouses and the well-being of the offspring and ultimately of the society.
This present document is seen pertinent in the background of the passionate discussions and
debates on these matters, both inside and outside the country in recent times. Since these
questions are related to natural moral law, this document presents the Catholic teaching as a
guideline both for the believers and for all people of goodwill, all committed to promoting and
defending the common good of society, and this statement has no political concerns.
2. Basic Assumptions
The teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and morality presuppose the following: First,
the inviolable dignity of each individual person, created in the image and likeness of God.
Second, human persons are created male and female “equal as persons and complementary as
male and female.” They are complementary subjects to work together for the good of society
and especially of children, who are the fruits of the loving relationship between a man and a
woman. Third, Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established
by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose, as is evident to right reason
and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Fourth, being a man or a woman
is God’s plan and it helps them to give to each other totally to the extent of “becoming one
flesh.” Indeed, sexual difference is definitive in all relationships, as sons and daughters,
brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and so on. Further, human sexuality is not merely
personal satisfaction, but human completion which is possible only in their duality and
complementarity. A preoccupation with personal satisfaction is often the result of an inversion
of the person in selfishness and self-centeredness.
Therefore, the Church, while upholding the dignity of every person, irrespective of his/her
class, caste, creed, colour or sexual orientation, and condemning any act of violence based on
such differences, upholds that a marriage is only between a man and a woman.
3. Church’s Teaching on Homosexuality.
The NCBC had explained the position of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality and Sodomy
already in 2021. However, as it fits this discussion, once again it is summarized here. The
Church deems homosexual behaviour as against the divine plan and natural laws and, therefore,
immoral, objectively disordered, and hence morally unacceptable. Biblical passages such as
Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Genesis 19:1-28, Rom 1:21-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10, clearly
state that homosexuality, is contrary to God’s plan and will and that it results from human
failure to accept God as God and His teachings as our moral norm (Cf. Rom 1:21).
What the Church exhorts all people of goodwill is to accept God’s teachings as the foundation of human
morality.The purpose of human creation, in God’s plan, is to cooperate with Him in the transmission of
life by mutual self-giving of man and woman to each other in love. A matrimonial relationship
satisfies man’s natural craving for human love, companionship, sexual pleasure, and self-
sanctification, but also self-perpetuation. Hence, denying any of such aspects from marriage is
a deviation from the natural purpose of marriage. The good of the offspring, where the children
derive existence, nourishment, and education from their parents, is an inalienable end of
marriage. Thus to choose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual gratification does not meet
the fundamental ends of marriage as it is not a complementary union, able to transmit life. This
is why the Church has time and again reiterated that homosexuality is against God’s plan and
natural law. Homosexual acts close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from
a genuine affective love and sexual complementarity and hence, under no circumstances can
they be approved.
However, the Church differentiates between “homosexual inclinations or tendency” and
“individual homosexual actions”, with the former is seen as “intrinsically disordered” while
the latter as “sin gravely contrary to chastity.” In other words, while the Church does not
condemn people for having the homosexual orientation or tendency, it condemns homosexual
acts. “God loves a sinner but hates sin.” The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning
assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive
or even genetic and therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts, because,
human persons are not mere automata, nor are slaves of their inclinations, but free individuals,
gifted with reason to know what is right and with freedom to strive for that which is right, even
if he/she sometimes fails in the attempt. Thus, while condemning homosexual acts, the Church
underscores that homosexual individuals, like all other people, should be treated with respect,
compassion, and sensitivity, and their human rights should be upheld, without being subjected
to violence, discrimination or harassment. Their natural rights, like those of anyone else, are
seen as universal, inviolable.
4. Church’s Position on Same-Sex Marriage
The teaching of the Catholic Church on “same-sex marriage” and blessing of such unions
derives from the understanding of marriage and homosexuality explained above. The church’s
consistent position has been that the term marriage refers only to the indissoluble union of a
man and a woman. Any other type of relation, what some prefer to call same sex union, does
not fall under this, even in a remote sense. Such unions are totally lacking in the biological and
anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of
reason, for granting them legal recognition. Firstly, such unions are not able to contribute in a
proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. Secondly, the absence of sexual
complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who
would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either
fatherhood or motherhood. In this sense, they cannot be considered marriage or as analogous
Thirdly, any amount of positive effects of such relationships on the persons
involved, which are to be valued and appreciated, do not render them appropriate for an
ecclesial blessing, as they do not align with the Creator’s plan. In order to conform with the
nature of sacramentals, like blessing, and thus to receive the grace of it, in addition to the right
intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and
positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in
creation. This is not the case with same sex relationships, as they involve sexual activity outside
Finally, can a civil law make such relations morally right? Even a humanly-created law is
legitimate only “insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right
reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.” Hence civil law cannot
contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience. Therefore, given the
values at stake in this question, even a legislation which purportedly grants legal standing to
such unions, fails “in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the
common good.” This stands true also about arguments based on the common or majority
support or demand.
However, refusal to bless same-sex union is not about unjust discrimination for two reasons.
Firstly, this reflects the nature of sacramentals in the Church’s understanding. Secondly, as St.
Thomas Aquinas teaches, “differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or
benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice.” The denial of the social and legal
status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital in the natural
sense, is not opposed to justice and hence cannot be considered as discrimination.
One should also note that this does not preclude blessings for individual persons with
homosexual inclinations who are willing to live in fidelity to God’s revealed plans as proposed
by Church’s teaching. “The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with
respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations,” and those who undergo pain and
suffering of discrimination or who need guidance in their spiritual journey.
Morality does not depend on what is concretely practiced or what is decided by the majority,
nor does it depend on civil laws. It depends on divine and natural laws, expressed in human
reason. Accordingly, marriage is the lawful union of one man and one woman, with openness
to procreation. Therefore, while respecting the individual rights, and condemning any violence
against the people with different sexual orientation, the Church upholds the biblical
understanding of marriage and rejects any other forms of unions as against the plan of the
creator. Yet the Church’s negative judgment on same-sex unions does not imply judgement on
the individuals involved. Nor the acceptance of the latter imply acceptance of the former, as
there is a difference between the individuals and the union.
Windhoek, 21 August, 2023
+Archbishop Liborius N. Nashenda OMI
President, Namibian Catholic Bishops Conference