As I noted in PART ONE of this series, this issue is especially important to me. As I near my 30's and all my siblings and friends are married with children (hopefully not like the show), I am well aware that I'm going to have to make a decisions about this pretty soon. What I really want to do in this part of the series is get down to the question itself, though, both from a natural law and a personal perspective. That is, whether a homosexual person should consider marrying a person of the opposite sex.
The first thing I think people should realize is that this question is basically impossible to address today. The way the modern world views sexuality and marriage is so different from the way natural law views it that without a proper background, any attempt to really tackle the question is pointless. I'd like to discuss, at least for a moment, why I think this is. Most people, I think, view marriage as really, really special. Natural law does the same thing. But the modern world views it as special in a different sort of way. The modern world says that marriage represents a sort of emotional completeness, where a person can finally feel happy, no longer longing (longest?) for someone else sexually. I think many people, in fact, think that this sort of emotional happiness is the purpose of marriage. They will even go so far as to say that a marriage that isn't founded on this emotional completeness (also known as "love") is not really a marriage at all. Conversely, they will say that anything that has love transforms that relationship into a marriage (despite it having nothing to do with marriage in a metaphysical sense at all). Such people would no doubt (and do) advise others to end marriages when the spouses no longer have feelings for one another.
This is the reason, I think, divorce is so popular, as people come to realize that love, or at least that feeling of it, fades. I think it's also the reason why people rear back in horror when they hear about a homosexual marrying someone of the opposite sex. "IT'S A LIE!" they'll say. Truth being that "special" emotional connection between the two people. If the feeling of love is not there, in other words, it's not really a marriage. "But do you love him?" girls will ask one another when deciding whether marriage is the proper course. "But I love her," the justification for any unseasonable behavior of many men. Put simply, love, the special feeling of emotional completeness, is seen, by the modern world (secular or religious), as the end, or purpose, of human sexuality. And it's become a pretty popular standard. It's all anyone does or talks about. It comes to completely take over most people's lives. I'd even go as far as to say that it is the point of most people's lives.
I think there are interesting philosophical reasons why this is the case. Namely, I think as the world came to accept a huge split between mind (or maybe even soul in the spiritual sense) and body, we began to associate "love" (that special thing) with the mind, and everything else (often including sex) with the body. As the mind, something that appears to be eternal, to exist beyond the material world, is superior, we began to associate that special feeling with the superior thing. You can have sex with lots of people, sure, but if you don't love them it doesn't really matter. This, incidentally, has had a huge effect on how people view the actual sexual act in general. Anyone I know who is a least a little thoughtful will come to view sex as a dirty little physical need. It's also had an effect on how people view marriage, which has become sort of livingtogether+, without any real guiding principles or idea what the + might mean---especially when the couple has decided "not to have any kids." I don't mean to imply, necessarily, that a modern philosophical movement changed the way we universally view human sexuality; I just think it had a lot to do with how we even begin the discussion---a discussion which necessarily starts with the love > all premise.
Natural law says something, perhaps radically, different here. Natural law sees those inextinguishable sex drives as pointed at an end, intercourse, which is pointed at a higher end, family. And natural law sees romantic love as merely a part of that puzzle, something pointed as well at a higher end, not an end in itself. It says, in other words, that romantic love helps us to come together and to stay together and raise the children that we necessarily create because of our sexuality. As such, natural law sees romantic love as special in the sense that it is so important to our flourishing as the things we are, but not special in the sense that it is outside of what we are as human beings, like a transcendent sort of magic. Christianity (and Catholicism specifically) will tend to add more layers to this, of course, saying that marriage represents Christ's relationship with the Church, a sacrament to some. I think viewing it this way has had some interesting, and probably unintended, side effects. Namely, as marriage became merely "an expression of love," romantic love (not marriage) was elevated to the level of divine sacrament. The Christian tradition served to justify (even if not intentionally) the weird split between mind and body.
At its worst, romantic love taking center stage has perverted the entire marriage institution, separating it from the physical actors in question. But natural law says that marriage is a natural institution, necessarily related to the people (and their bodies) doing the loving. As people are driven together sexually (like any other appetite), they necessarily create children. As those people create children, they come together to protect, raise, and teach those children, which requires patience, fortitude, and love (and not just the feeling)---both between the spouses and for the children. In other words, natural law says that marriage is the natural end of human sexuality. And this seems sort of obviously correct. As it is good for lions to live in prides, it is good for humans to have marriages and family. Even people who resent the conclusions of natural law at least agree with this on some level. In fact, they are often the biggest proponents of "family," merely extending (or perverting) the definition of family, pulling it from its metaphysical roots, but keeping the underlying principle.
Why am I going into all this? Well, one, I think it's important to establish a good starting place, clearing away a lot of unnecessary modern baggage. But two, I want to make it clear that there is nothing necessarily in natural law that forbids a homosexual from marrying someone of the opposite sex assuming he or she were able to have sex with the spouse. Natural law does not say that we pervert our faculties by having sex with people we aren't necessarily especially attracted to. Natural law merely says that when we use our faculties (in this case, our sexual organs), we use them in line with their nature. In this sort of analysis, it is best to see homosexuality as a simple kind of psychological defect, wherein the particular homosexual is less able to use his body in a way that is aligned with its nature. Assuming that sex is necessarily heterosexual (as I have argued elsewhere), homosexuality is akin to something like psychological impotence. As such, a homosexual who does choose to marry and have sexual intercourse with his spouse (assuming he would be able to) would not be perverting the natural end of human sexuality; instead, such a person would be acting perfectly line with his metaphysical nature. Such a thing would be something like a person with a disability attempting to overcome that disability and use his body as it naturally should be used (say, like a person with an eating disorder forcing himself to eat, even if he absolutely had no appetite for it, or a person with a clubbed foot forcing himself to walk).
But this, of course, is not the end of the analysis. This sort of thing just represents the bare minimum for moral behavior. Even taking homosexuality as a disability, it is sometimes very imprudent to try to overcome a disability where such an attempt will unnecessarily harm the actor. For example, assuming someone had a digestive disorder, it would be incredibly imprudent to force food down that person's throat, even if eating by chewing and swallowing, etc., are perfectly in line with natural law. Homosexuality is a bit different in that it feels less physical (although the disability in question is just a physical disability of the brain (most likely)), but the principle still holds. If a person had an irrational fear of something (based on a strange brain disorder), it would clearly be imprudent for that person to live his life in a way that unnecessarily made him come in contact with that fear (assuming that fear just cannot be overcome without some medical procedure or serious medication). And in many cases, the homosexual may be harmed, in various ways, by marrying someone of the opposite sex. If such a decision would lead to depression or emotional illness, he should clearly not do it, even if the actual act itself does not directly violate the natural law.
Furthermore, marriage is necessarily related to another person. It takes two to tango and all that. As such, a gay man, even if it is morally licit for him to have sexual intercourse with a woman, may be harming that woman in a different way. Women, I have found, have much more trouble viewing marriage as disconnected, in any way, from romantic emotions. I have gotten in arguments with women, on a number of occasions in which they say something like a man has to "find them attractive" and "love them," or else the sex would be bad (as in morally) in some way. They are much more likely to say things like their lover is "emotionally cheating" on them. I don't say this to denigrate women; I think the underlying reason women do this is good, a virtue, something that allows (when used properly) the family unit to grow. I mention it only to note that a gay man would have a lot of trouble convincing a woman that he has special romantic feelings for her. While he may love her (in the sense of willing the good for her), it is questionable whether she would feel the things she longs for. This may, over time, come to harm the spouses and the marriage. (I think this, at least in part, is why lesbians marrying men is more acceptable and more common. A lesbian, as a woman, can feel more comfortable with her husband finding her ravishing and emotionally loving her, even if she doesn't necessarily find him all that attractive and isn't really aroused by him. But if a man, straight or gay, does not find the person attractive, he has a lot of trouble devoting himself to that person, especially since he is the one who has to be aroused, at least on some level, and give his seed---a necessary part of what sex is to a man. There are other reasons why lesbian-straight marriages are more acceptable than gay-straight marriages, but that's not really the point of this post.)
So what are we supposed to do with all of this? Honestly, I don't know. While it's true that a homosexual marrying a person of the opposite sex is morally permissible, at least on its most basic level, it is incredibly dangerous and perhaps even immoral in that it is so imprudent. (There was this Philippa Foot quote I like that went something like this: "Prudence is a virtue, you know; it's a very modern thing to try to separate the virtuous from the moral" or something like that, but I can't find it anywhere.). But, if a person were able to have sex with his or her spouse (and not just like once every couple years or something), and if the non-homosexual spouse were fully aware of what this might mean, it could be advisable. Of course, this will depend almost entirely on a person's particular circumstances. For some gay people, this is probably a completely legitimate and good option. I've mentioned Josh Weed. For others, it's disastrous. I have read it being disastrous for more people, honestly. But when I read those stories, there is always something wrong about how they approached it, something that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sexuality: normally the gay spouse (usually the man) never tells the woman that he is gay, for example. This doesn't really provide much guidance for gay people who are interested in marriage. How do they know whether they are lucky, or if they're setting themselves up for horrible, horrible failure? How would they know without trying it first?
For me, I have no idea. Sometimes I see women that I would consider marrying. But then I think of what our lives would be like in 20 years, and I get genuinely terrified. But is this just because I'm a normal person? Or because I'm gay? And how do you even bring that up? "Hey, I know you were hoping for Mr. Wonderful to come sweep you off your feet, hoping for someone who can't live without you, who will make your toes tingle when he whispers sweet nothings into your ear, but you get me, someone who only finds you intellectually attractive at best. Let's get married." I would have no trouble having sex with a woman (I don't think...of course, I don't know), and I think I would make an excellent father, but I still have a lot, a lot of trouble getting behind the idea. To be honest, though, sometimes I'm not sure if it seems like a bad idea because of the world today, or if it actually is a bad idea. Beyond all other issues in my life, I am the least certain about this one in particular. It's difficult distinguishing where the modern bias ends and common sense begins. People married one another all the time in the past, and very few people were concerned with whether one of the spouses were a homosexual. And I don't think all the gay people (and there were no doubt many) cheated all the time; I think they just said to themselves, "well, this is marriage, and this is just part of life." People today are no doubt offended by such propositions, but understood with the underlying moral background, it makes perfect sense. Love, as a feeling, while wonderful and good, was merely part of a greater good. And even if the members in a marriage did not have those feelings, whether they lost them or never felt them in the first place, they were still part of that greater good. That said, maybe it would have been better if such people did have a valid outlet outside of marriage to seek goodness.
It is a difficult issue, and I apologize for not having a better answer to the question. But I will say, for the people who are worried (as I sometimes am), you commit no wrong by entertaining the idea. Sex is a good. And marriage is necessarily an even greater good. And while you may not be able to even imagine a future without the possibility of at least one of those things, remember that they are not necessarily for everyone. Furthermore, I will add this. And I mentioned this in my post on quitting masturbation. If men, gay, straight, or otherwise, did not have continuous access to pornography and masturbation, they would marry much more often. Masturbation provides a false and very perverse end to one of our greatest goods, and people, through continued use, become unaware of what it is pornography and masturbation are really replacing: sex, marriage, family, goodness itself. (This, of course, would be a bare minimum to a mixed-orientation marriage; the male spouse especially should not be homosexually sexually active (either with himself through pornography or masturbation or others) for a significant period of time. If you are gay and are still masturbating but are considering marrying someone of the opposite sex, don't even think about it until you get the rest of your life in order. (This is actually good advice for straight people too, but yeah.)) I, for example, have considered marriage much more likely ever since I quit my terrible habits. Does this mean I will marry someone in the future? I have no idea. I do know, though, that if I were to marry, I would be much more able to be a man, both in the masculine sense of the word, and in the man and wife sense of the word.