Morality of homosexual actsBirth Control in the Catholic Church
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October 28, 2002, 10:13 AM

Morality of homosexual acts

I have a few challenges for you.

I challenge you to come up with an argument against homosexual behavior based on further intent that has not been used against the use of ABC.

I challenge you to come up with an argument against homosexual behavior based on outcome that has not been used against the use of ABC.

All such arguments, when used against ABC use, have been refuted, and can thus be refuted when used against homosexxual acts. Are you aware that homosexual activists have indeed used the two arguments you've raised to legitimize their position ('It's ok for sterile couples to get married' and 'We've evolved beyond the necessity for sex to be between man and woman only. It is now possible and acceptable to have a sexual union based primarily on the unitive.')? And on those grounds, there is not much refuting them.

What is left? The argument of intrinsic evil. The sinfulness of the chosen object itself. In order to judge whether or not the object is sinful, there must be some agreed upon standard with which to judge, no? The standard is not just for measuring the rightness of homsexual acts, but for all sexual acts. You can't use it to condemn a homosexual act, and then toss it out when trying to judge a different sexual act - otherwise one can toss it out when judging homosexual acts too.

That is why the charge of moral relativism is quite appropriate here. That is what moral relativists do - toss out an agreed upon standard so that they can say "there is no such thing as an intrinsically evil act." If you don't agree that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, then you might as well say they are just as legitimate as any other sexual act. At least then you would be intellectually honest and consistent. Of course, once you do that, there is no need for marriage, is there?

October 28, 2002, 10:23 AM
One possibility you overlook here is that homosexuality may be intrinsically evil, but at the same time ABC may not be. In other words the complementary nature of man and woman, aside from procreation, is a necessary aspect of sacramental marriage and therefore itself overrules homosexual unions. In other words women are so essential to men as helpmates and vice-versa, along the same order of nature that plants require light for photosynthesis. The male-female bond is essential to the growth and nurturing of the couple with or without the creation of children.
Mom of 4
October 28, 2002, 10:24 AM
JSM, from my view, setting aside the obvious fallacy, I can see that part of your logic, which asserts that if nonprocreative sexual activity is okay then individual homosexual acts would have to be okay, too. It would seem to be a fair enough statement for you to assert that that part of the Church's teaching, about why homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, should indeed fall if our refutation of the Church's teaching against ABC should be allowed to stand. I think you are thinking clearly about this insofar as that narrow issue is concerned. I welcome your pressing of this issue and your inquiring after an answer to your challenge. I view your concern about moral relativism as sincere and I just urge you to understand that it is a very involved and highly nuanced academic topic and that it is also taken by many, rightly so, to be a serious ad hominem attack.

Now, directly to your question.

1) Does the Church have something to say to human sexuality?

The Catholic moral viewpoint is founded on human reason illumined by faith and is consciously motivated by the desire to do the will of God our Father. The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions, created by God and heir, by grace, to eternal life.

2) Does the Church have something to say about homosexual acts, apart from their being intrinsically disordered because they are not procreative?

It can be clearly seen that the phenomenon of homosexuality, complex as it is, and with its many consequences for society and ecclesial life, is a proper focus for the Church's pastoral care. It thus requires of her ministers attentive study, active concern and honest, theologically well-balanced counsel.

3)Where does the Church first turn for its basic understanding of homosexuality versus heterosexuality?

Providing a basic plan for understanding this entire discussion of homosexuality is the theology of creation we find in Genesis. God, in his infinite wisdom and love, brings into existence all of reality as a reflection of his goodness. He fashions mankind, male and female, in his own image and likeness. Human beings, therefore, are nothing less than the work of God himself; and in the complementarity of the sexes, they are called to reflect the inner unity of the Creator.

Thank you, Cardinal Ratzinger, for your time.

So, JSM, before we come to any consideration of the mere procreative aspect of unions, we deal with an essential complementarity.

There are many criteria the Church has set forth for human sexuality: 1) that it be procreative, to be sure, but also that it be 2) heterosexual 3) conjugal 4) unitive, and following from that, in now way coerced, but 5) freely given. So, can you see that, even if you ditch the procreative altogether, the Church's teaching on homosexual acts would still stand? But can you further see that no one is suggesting that it be tossed out altogether but rather that it be incorporated into a vision of marriage that views the totality of the relationship through time as an organic, sacramental whole? In a nutshell, a homosexual act can remain intrinsically disordered for not meeting several criteria set forth in our moral teachings.

Now, perhaps you'd like to return to the REAL nitty-gritty thread and give us some more compelling reasons in support of your views re: ABC?


p.s. Note, all, that we are discussing homosexual acts and not homosexuality per se
October 28, 2002, 10:25 AM
Thanks for following my recommendation to make this its own thread, JSM.

As Mom noted in the other one, you're invoking a "slippery slope" fallacy.
- see

To wit: "The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question. In most cases, there are a series of steps or gradations between one event and the one in question and no reason is given as to why the intervening steps or gradations will simply be bypassed. This "argument" has the following form:

1. Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).
2. Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow from another without an argument for such a claim. This is especially clear in cases in which there is a significant number of steps or gradations between one event and another. "

In other words, discounting the reasoning given by Mom and I because we open the door to homosexual unions in doing so doesn't cut it.

Here are some other possible arguments against homosexual unions that could be taken up, since this seems to be such an important issue for you.

A. According to Natural Law, sex is ordered for heterosexual relationships. I mean if we can so gratuitously say that heterosexual sex for humans is primarily ordained for procreation, and must be open to procreation in every act, then why not just back up one step and say that sex itself is ordained for heterosexuals? Since there's no need to justify such statements with rational arguments--all the Magisterium needs to to is *make* them--then they could just make such a statement and that would be that, wouldn't it? Sex is properly ordered for heterosexual relationships, and therefore homosexual sex is disordered. I think such a position is actually, already implied in the Church's present teaching.

I've just met your "impossible challenge," I know, but I'll go on.

B. Assuming that the Magisterial position doesn't quite go so far as to say that Natural Law doesn't condemn homosexual sex *because* it's between two of the same sex (can't imagine such a scenario, but what the hell!), one could also say, as I've pointed out to you at least five times now, that homosexual sex can NEVER realize the procreative aspect of human sexuality. Married couples can, eventually, if they are fertile, drop their birth control practice (including NFP), and are, in addition, blessed with a conception (yes, I *did* say blessed!).

As for your charges of moral relativism, intellectual dishonesty, and all the other rude comments, read what others have replied to you in the other threads. Drop your nasty, judgmental attitude and participate in dialogue. I'll reply directly to your points, and have all along. Only you never really deal with my replies--only keep repeating your same arguments again and again as though no one has replied to them.

Maybe you're a 'bot? razz
October 28, 2002, 10:27 AM

A few points:

I have so far understood you to say that there is no such thing as an intrinsically evil act. Am I correct, or not?

I'll deal with B first. A thief may eventually stop stealing and actually get a job and earn his living honestly. Does that then mean that all his acts of stealing leading up to the time he gets a job are then good? We might eventually get to heaven. Does that mean that everything we've done in between has always been without sin? You can't just dismiss the rightness or wrongness of individual sexual acts.

As far as A goes, yes-that is the intrinsic evil argument. Are you now espousing it and saying that an act CAN be evil regardless of the intent with which you perform it, or regardless of its outcome? That is what you are saying when you say it is wrong simply because it happens between two men.

Mom gave five criteria for the requirements a sexual act must meet in order to be licit. Only one of them is really part of the intrinsic argument. Homosexuals can meet the procreative through adoption, just as an infertile couple can. Homosexual acts involve two people, therefore the act is conjugal. Homosexuals may indeed find the act unitive physically, emotionally and spiritually. And they are freely giving themselves to each other.

The only only thing they can be disqualified on is that the act is not taking place between heterosexuals. But here, you have it backwards, Editor. Why must it be between heterosexuals? Mainly, for the above reason of procreation. But what was it you said about evolving beyond the need for sex to be primarily procreational? Well, why can't the homosexual invoke that argument, and say that we've also evolved beyond the need for it to be between man and woman? Doesn't that logically follow?

I levelled the charge of intellectual dishonesty because someone who says we must change the standard for judging this sexual act, and yet condemns that sexual act invoking the same criteria that they previously rejected (on what authority?) is indeed dishonest.

If you can discount the homosexual act based on it's objective evil, then it is possible to discount any sexual act based on objective evil if it doesn't meet the standard by which you judge the homosexual act. No matter the intent of the act. No matter its outcome.

Therefore, it is possible to discount the act of ABC on the grounds of intrinsic evil, because of its inherent selfishness. Just like masurbation can be discounted on that basis. Just like homosexual acts are discounted on that basis. Apart from intentions, Editor. Apart from outcomes, Editor.

I will not apologize for labelling your arguments morally relative. That's what they are.

October 28, 2002, 10:28 AM
But here, you have it backwards, Editor. Why must it be between heterosexuals? Mainly, for the above reason of procreation. But what was it you said about evolving beyond the need for sex to be primarily procreational? Well, why can't the homosexual invoke that argument, and say that we've also evolved beyond the need for it to be between man and woman? Doesn't that logically follow?

First, because homosexual relations can only ever be totally unitive. That's quite different than heterosexual relations, which ARE primarily unitive (whether you believe it or not) in number and intent, but not necessarily always so. Hence, the procreative aspect can be realized in heterosexual marriages while not in homosexual marriages.

I think that's about the 6th time I say this to you. I'll stop here to see if it registered this time, never-minding for now the other points made by James and I about how Natural Law condemns homosexual unions for other reasons.
October 28, 2002, 10:29 AM

In the case of an infertile couple getting married, their sex is only unitive. So a homosexual couple can point to that and say "They are allowed, why aren't we?" And on that basis alone, there is no refutation.
What you are really saying is not that the homosexual act is bad because it is not procreative, but that the homosexuals are DOING SOMETHING to MAKE it unprocreative. That is the difference between the infertile couple and the homosexual couple. But, if you criticize the homosexual couple for doing something to make their sexual acts infertile, then how can you not criticize others for doing the same thing, whether by masturbation or using ABCs? You can't suddenly switch criteria, and say, 'well, there are other reasons why homosexual acts are wrong.' Either performing a sexual act in a way that makes it infertile is wrong, or it isn't.

I agree there are other reasons why homosexual acts are wrong. But, you have six times now stated that it is wrong because they make the act infertile. Out of sheer repetition, I gather that this argument must be one of your standards for judging the rightness or wrongness of any sexual act. So, therefore, you can't suddenly chuck it because now we're talking about a contraceptive sexual act.

Stealing someone's wallet and plagiarism are both theft. Anal sex and using chemical or physical barriers are simply two different means of making sex unprocreative.

Shall we go for a 7th time, Ed?

October 28, 2002, 10:30 AM
What you are really saying is not that the homosexual act is bad because it is not procreative, but that the homosexuals are DOING SOMETHING to MAKE it unprocreative.

Baloney! I said no such thing. Why would they need to DO SOMETHING to MAKE their sex unprocreative? It already is!

I agree there are other reasons why homosexual acts are wrong. But, you have six times now stated that it is wrong because they make the act infertile.

You agree? Funny, just a couple of threads back you were saying that the ONLY reason to condemn homosexual unions was that their sex was intrinsically evil.
Mom of 4
October 28, 2002, 10:32 AM
re: I agree there are other reasons why homosexual acts are wrong. But, you have six times now stated that it is wrong because they make the act infertile.

JSM, thanks for hanging in there. I can appreciate and partly understand what you are driving at. I think we have discovered some important common ground, too.

Your acknowledgement that there are other reasons that homosexual acts might be wrong for other reasons might reveal that the Church's teaching is "safe" in that regard, this notwithstanding that the procreative aspect is frustrated. If the Editor, Ed or Edie, maintains that the unitive aspect of married life is revealed in a striking way by the relationship "in its totality" being open to the procreative aspect, perhaps he is only saying that, since a homosexual union cannot mirror this unitive *outgrowth* of generativity either in isolated acts or in its totality, it is therefore intrinsically disordered?

I think one reason you keep talking past one another is that his position always treats generativity in the totality of relationships and yours always is concerned with individual acts.

If the primary use of books is to read them, it does not of necessity make it a totally ridiculous activity to stack them in order for a kid to sit on them, thereby using them as a booster seat for a child at a kitchen table. They could be used for doorstops, too, or for a stool to stand on to reach high into cabinets. Now if one always purchased books for everything but reading, then, in its totality, we might suggest that their relationship with books would be rather ridiculous. I only offer this analogy to demonstrate the "totality" aspect and how individual acts could be out of harmony while the overall relationship realizes its desired finalities nonetheless. Obviously, the metaphor isn't intended to address the ordinacy in the relationship of the unitive and proceative aspects of marriage.

Hang in there.
Peace, all
October 28, 2002, 10:32 AM
One more thing, Ed,

Remember that if you start to criticize having sex during the infertile period as INTRINSICALLY evil, then you are condemning infertile couples as well. Remember also that if you say abstaining is INTRINSICALLY evil, then you are condemning engaged couples, religious, singles, etc. as well.

Keep in mind that we are only talking intrinsic evil, here - please.

October 30, 2002, 10:39 PM
I thought this deserved a place on this thread even though it came from another.

The Editor had written:

FWIW, we should acknowledge that there are fine biblical scholars and ethicists who are re-examining the morality of homosexual relations in the light of information learned during the past few decades from human genetic studies and behavioral sciences. None of that is relevant to the topics addressed on this forum, but I did want to let it be known.
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And I responded:

I am very pleased that you mentioned this. I was eventully going to address it but did not want to muddy the waters further.

It would be refreshing to see the discipline of moral theology properly subsumed under the category of Spiritual Theology and to see the aspirational aspect of "how we should live" discussed more often than the mere proscriptive, to see values and fruits of the Spirit and formative spirituality emphasized more than intrinsically disordered physical acts and evils. The morality of homosexual relations is just as deserving of re-examination as is the morality of the death penalty insofar as natural law interpretations heavily depend on good science.
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