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Reason versus homosexuality.

Most arguments against homosexual activity are religious. The case against same-sex relations, however, is not only religious but philosophical.

It proceeds from the universal observation that we are naturally inclined to certain goods - life, community, truth, creativity - which are essential to our personhood. By engaging in these fundamental goods, we fulfil our human mandate.

Good indicates a certain fitness, a sense of what ought to be. Evil indicates the absence of good, but not just any good. It is the absence of a good that is supposed to be there.

Speech, for example, is good even when we lie. It is the lie, the absence of required truth, that is evil. Evil, in other words, is deficiency or incompleteness.

Homosexual union is radically incomplete

The goods essential to sex are life and community. In its very nature and purpose, human sexuality is both procreative and relational. Only heterosexual union, however, is capable of affirming both the procreative and relational goods.

Homosexual union, on the other hand, is not open to the procreative good. Although it engages procreative organs, it does so in a context that is totally alien to procreation. Not only particular homosexual acts but the entire relationship denies this fundamental human good.

In doing so, it renders human sexuality incomplete. But, as we saw, incompleteness, the absence of a required good, is the definition of evil.

It is true that heterosexual union is not always open to procreation. Impediments, biological or otherwise, can intervene. Nevertheless, it takes place in a procreative context. Except for some impediment, it is essentially conducive to life, and only incidentally defective. Homosexual intercourse, on the other hand, is essentially exclusive of life.

To be incidentally defective is no small thing. If we contraceptively render heterosexual union defective, we act against the procreative good, we exclude life. This incompleteness is also evil.

Today, of course, many deny that contraception is evil. Some then argue that if it is not evil to exclude the procreative good through contraceptive activity, it is also not evil to exclude it through homosexual activity. But this does not logically follow, because the two kinds of activity exclude the procreative good in different ways. Whereas infertile, heterosexual union is incidentally defective, non-fertile homosexual union is substantially incomplete.

The difference between infertile and non-fertile is crucial. In this context, the prefix "in" denotes the frustration of a natural capacity, whereas the prefix "non" denotes the absence of this capacity. Contraceptive heterosexual intercourse is infertile because it frustrates a natural capacity to procreate. Homosexual intercourse is non-fertile because people in a same-sex relationship are incapable of producing and raising offspring together by nature.

Procreation is essential to sexuality

So even if it were acceptable for heterosexuals to engage in contraceptive intercourse, it would not for that reason be acceptable for homosexuals to engage in same-sex intercourse. The mistaken, though widespread, support of contraception cannot logically be used to justify homosexual behaviour.

The procreative potential of heterosexual union profoundly affects the relationship. Because men and woman are potentially fathers and mothers, they bring complementary gifts to the partnership and tend to play different roles. Such gifts enrich the relationship even if there are no children. This means that the procreative and relational goods do not simply co-exist. They interpenetrate. This interpenetration is impaired in contraceptive union. It is impossible in homosexual union.

It should be clear from the foregoing that heterosexual and homosexual intercourse are neither similar nor equal. Indeed, they are fundamentally different. To suggest that they be treated as equal in law or public policy is, therefore, unconscionable.

Unlike animals which fulfil themselves instinctively, we do it, or fail to do it, intentionally. Human fulfilment, therefore, is a moral issue. Consequently, to intentionally act against goods that are fundamental to our personhood, to exclude them where they are required, is always morally disordered. Homosexual and contraceptive heterosexual intercourse are, therefore, always morally disordered when intentionally engaged in.

Response to temptation is decisive

From this perspective it matters not whether the inclination to homosexual behaviour is innate or acquired. An inclination to disordered behaviour is a disordered inclination. But if innate or otherwise involuntary, such an inclination is not blameworthy. Only if we yield to it does blame become an issue. Consequently, homosexual orientation is not blameworthy unless we freely choose it.

In determining culpability, it is not what we incline to but what we consent to that is decisive. Disordered inclinations are temptations. We all have them. We all have to resist them. It makes no difference whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, innate or acquired.

All sorts of innate or congenital conditions affect us. Whether hormonal or genetic, we assess them in the light of the human goods they affirm or deny. By this standard, we judge some to be beneficial, others to be harmful.

It was once thought that an extra Y chromosome might genetically predispose men to criminal behaviour. If true, it certainly would not weaken our disapproval of murder and mayhem.

Thought distinct, the religious and philosophical cases against same-sex relations are mutually supportive. The religious case, however, is not limited to specific biblical prohibitions. More positively, it rests on the exaltation of conjugal love and fruitfulness, a central biblical theme.

This begins in Genesis, where God creates man and woman in his image and tells them to be fruitful and multiply. The Old Testament likens conjugal love to the covenant between God and his people. The New Testament compares it to the union of Christ and his Church. Neither has a good word to say about homosexual relations.

Joe Campbell is a freelance writer living in Saskatoon, SK, from whence he comments on culture and society.
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Author:Campbell, Joe
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:May 1, 1998
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