Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Evil of Homosexuality

That's right folks. I said that. Homosexuality, as in acts pertaining to a homosexual nature, is evil. By definition, anything that is an affront to God's nature and against His commands is evil. Of course in the West's quest to erase guilt for sin, this is very un-PC and you'll rarely hear this phrase mentioned by anyone, even Christians. Anyone reading this blog knows I'm not one to stifle my rhetoric and at every chance I get challenge the PC nonsense of our culture.

But just what does homosexuality being evil entail? Well it entails just what any other evil action entails. That in thought or deed, if you perform a homosexual act you are acting against God and are sinning. However, whenever this issue comes up the pro-sin side immediately rattles off certain straw men. Why do you hate homosexuals? Why are you so intolerant? Why do you want to get in their bedroom and interfere with their personal life? In that vein, let's point out what the evil of homosexuality doesn't entail:

It does not entail that you are to hate the person who performs the act. People who have homosexual proclivities, or who endorse it, or who live the lifestyle, are still people made in God's image whom He loves. The very Bible that condemns homosexual acts also calls for us to love people and spread the message of salvation through Christ to them. We aren't to hate them. We aren't to go up to them and condemn them. We are to tell them that they are wrong and acting against God. However, that is usually when the aforementioned straw man is set up. On the contrary, when one tells another they are wrong for what they do, it is usually not out of hatred, but out of concern for the other person. If you hated the person why would you warn them about what they're doing?

It does not entail intolerance of the person. It does entail intolerance of the act. Everyone is intolerant of something. The toleration police simply live in an impossible fairy land. We're all intolerant of something. The ones who want to legitimize homosexuality are intolerant of those who want to continue to point out that it is a perversion. What we can tolerate is each other's existence. But no one should tolerate evil acts such that they don't speak out against them.

It finally doesn't entail that you want bedroom surveillance. Most people who don't want evil acts legitimized are not for infringement of personal liberty or for civil action for all evil actions. If you want to perform evil acts that don't hurt others in the privacy of your bedroom, go for it. That's between you and God. But when a society tries to legitimize certain evils, the morally conscious person has the duty to speak out against them.

122 comments:

SLW said...

The toleration police simply live in an impossible fairy land.
Double entendre? ;-)

But when a society tries to legitimize certain evils, the morally conscious person has the duty to speak out against them.
The way in which this is formulated provides equal justification for the PC police in pursuing their anti-antigay, don't you think? If one thinks that it is morally unconscionable to speak ill of, interfere with or otherwise make life difficult for homosexuals, that one would be justified in working against society's legitimizing the antigay agenda.

William Birch said...

This was a well-balanced post, and I appreciate your calling evil, evil, as well as offering hope to those caught up in an evil lifestyle!

I have two friends who received Christ and turned from their homosexual behavior. Though they still struggle with homosexual attraction, they have come to realize, by the grace of God, the absolute evil nature of homosexuality. God be praised!

God bless.

Jc_Freak: said...

I recently wrote on this as well. I like how you didn't hold back here, while still maintaining a balanced approach. Good job!

The biggest difficulty I see in this issue is that while "love the sinner; hate the sin" is a true and laudable opinion, we need more if we are really going to deal with people trapped in this. This is because for them it is an identity issue. We as Christians need to stress identity in Christ and not in our impulses if we are going to be able to bring people out of this lifestyle.

Lloyd said...

Thank you for bringing this issue "out of the closet" that has been made a "normal" lifestyle in the "worlds" point of view. As believers we must continue to allow Christ to shine through us when we witness to anyone who practices this lifestyle or condones it. In God's eyes "sin is sin" and we need to apply Jesus' love to all sinners alike.... even ourselves. "For we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory." Great post. God bless, Lloyd

Ana said...

Defining evil in terms of an offense against God, as you did, is always important, especially when you're dealing with secularists who insist homosexuality does not harm anyone (and of course, their definition of "harm" will not include harm done to the soul).

The problem with that view is that it (implicitly) limits immoral acts to those things which physically or emotionally harm people, which means a rejection of the concept of intrinsic evils (acts which are evil, regardless of particular circumstances or effects).

This can be shown to be a problem, when we conceive of acts in which no emotional or physical harm is imparted or evident, yet, even secularists would agree is evil.
Such as, a father thighing his newborn son. This is a perverted and evil act, *notwithstanding* that no penetration is taking place (absence of physical aggression and harm), and the fact that the son does not have the mental development to experience emotional devastation.

However, secularists, due to their worldview, would have no grounds by which to maintain this act to be evil -- i.e. they would regard it as evil, *in spite* of their worldview, not because of it).

Alex Petrov said...

You have no actual evidence or reason to call homosexuality evil except for a meaningless assertion that God said so. This is a poor justification of bigotry.

bossmanham said...

Quite a few foundational pieces of knowledge go into that, but it's assumed that the Bible is God's word. For a belief to be bigoted, it has to be based on personal opinion, not an objective authoritative source.

Ana said...

Alex,

Homosexual behavior is a disordered use of the body's sexual powers (just like lying is a disordered use of speech).

No amount of mainstream celebration of "queer" lifestyles will change the fact that humans are gendered, and within that gendered reality, male and female are complimentary -- that is why true sexual union (intercourse), is fulfilled by, and only by, the union of one male and one female.

SLW said...

Alex,
Since reproduction is the fundamental purpose of life forms, homosexuality is best a non-productive aberration and at worst, anti-life and anti-species.

zilch said...

SLW- so's celibacy. So what?

SLW said...

Zilch,
I'm not advocating celibacy, regardless, the purposeful misuse of something is not of the same ilk as the purposeful disuse. Celibacy is certainly natural and expected for the sexually immature.

zilch said...

Homosexuality is natural too, SLW. Or do you suppose bonobos learned it from humans after the Fall?

Ana said...

"Homosexuality is natural too, SLW"

In what sense, mechanical or in accordance to the purposed end of exercising the male and female sexual organs (i.e. natural moral law)?

If mechanical -- then sure. But so is cannibalism. Lot's of things are natural, in the mechanical sense, just by virtue of existing/occuring.

However, homosexuality is unnatural in the sense that the sexual organs are used in a manner that opposes the end for which they exist.

Hence, why I said homosexual behavior is disordered -- because the acts are not ordered towards (i.e. don't align with) the unitive and procreative purpose of sex.

SLW said...

zilch,
How does that in any way, shape or form undermine my statement:
homosexuality is at best a non-productive aberration and at worst, anti-life and anti-species.?

zilch said...

Ana, you say:

However, homosexuality is unnatural in the sense that the sexual organs are used in a manner that opposes the end for which they exist.

Being an atheist, I would rather say "evolved" than "exist", but basically, I agree: sexual organs evolved to help us reproduce, which is the summum bonum of evolution. And thus seen, homosexual behavior can be considered a "non-productive abberation", as SLW has it.

But I rejoice in having desires, meanings, and feelings that are not only geared toward reproduction, and I suspect you do too. Even bonobos do also- it would seem that they use sex as a means of helping to achieve the cooperation necessary to hold their tribe together, much as humans do but even more so. That is a telos of a higher level than merely getting pregnant, and can also be selected for if the society is thus made fitter.

In any case, if you want to go the naturalistic route, you should not only be complaining about homosexuality, but against birth control, eyeglasses, automobiles, and the internet- none of those things is "natural" either. If homosexual behavior doesn't harm anyone (and I don't see that it does, any more than heterosexual behavior does), then your only grounds for trying to prevent others from engaging in it are either based on your religious beliefs or on bigotry.

SLW, you say:

homosexuality is at best a non-productive aberration and at worst, anti-life and anti-species.

If homosexuality is an "abberation", then so is practically any activity that doesn't result in conception: for instance, reading the Bible or debating on the internet. And I think you must mean "anti-human" rather than "anti-life"- or are you not aware that we humans are not alone on this planet? And I wouldn't worry at the moment about homosexuality being "anti-species": if anything will do the humans species in, it will rather be that there are too many of us than too few.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

So Zilch thinks we should model our moral behavior after animal. Wow. Well, unabashed rape and mindless killing, here we come!

SLW said...

Zilch,
Homosexuality is an aberration of sexual purpose and capacity. How does that relate to any of the activities you listed as aberrational? You merely confuse categories, and make no point whatsoever.

As far as anti-species, and anti-life, I was merely speaking in the broadest non-Biblical generality possible, since I figured this would get to the animal kingdom. In that case, as Bossmanham has implied, just because animals do it, doesn't make it acceptable or right (regardless of court decisions) for human beings.

The question at hand was raised by Alex and concerned whether or not there was a non-biblical reason to classify homosexuality as evil. I think both Ana and I have demonstrated that such a line of reasoning is possible.

David said...

Could someone from the "homosexuality is evil" crowd help me out here? I'm not sure I follow the argument.

Is any sex act that has zero chance of leading to reproduction:

(a) an abberation and/or
(b) unnatural and/or
(c) anti-life and/or
(d) anti-species and/or
(e) evil?

Or is is just specifically homosexual sex acts?

zilch said...

SLW, you say:

Homosexuality is an aberration of sexual purpose and capacity. How does that relate to any of the activities you listed as aberrational? You merely confuse categories, and make no point whatsoever.

In that case, as I said, celibacy is also an aberration of sexual purpose and capacity. So Jesus was aberrant too (if the rumors about Mary Magdalene are not true). If that's how you define "aberrant", that's okay, but it doesn't seem a very useful definition to me.

As far as anti-species, and anti-life, I was merely speaking in the broadest non-Biblical generality possible, since I figured this would get to the animal kingdom. In that case, as Bossmanham has implied, just because animals do it, doesn't make it acceptable or right (regardless of court decisions) for human beings.

So you admit that the "homosexuality is unnatural" argument is flawed? Fine. And of course, I agree that just because animals do something doesn't make it a good model for human behavior- for instance, chimps have a higher rate of "murder" (killing other chimps) than any known human society. We must decide for ourselves what is right and wrong for humans.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

In that case, as I said, celibacy is also an aberration of sexual purpose and capacity.

You can't be performing an action aberrently if you aren't performing it at all.

Clearly the ignorance regarding Natural Law theory of morality is pretty thick here.

SLW said...

David,
I suggest that any sexual activity that would be an aspect of, or part of the process that ultimately leads to copulation between a male and a female could not be considered aberrational, no matter how it's sliced.

Unnatural doesn't seem a justified classification to me in regard to sex acts--if creatures (including humans) which are natural do a thing, in what way could it be properly classed as unnatural?

Anti-life/anti-species could only be applied to those sexual acts (not non-acts) which were engaged in instead of those that at least were theoretically part of the reproductive process.

Evil is an entirely different level of classification, one which if find no justification for apart from theism.

David said...

"Unnatural doesn't seem a justified classification to me in regard to sex acts."

Agreed. Better to avoid terms like "natural".


"I suggest that any sexual activity that would be an aspect of, or part of the process that ultimately leads to copulation between a male and a female could not be considered aberrational, no matter how it's sliced."

This seems inconsistent with your previous use of the phrase "non-productive aberration". I assumed that the word "non-productive" meant "non-reproductive". So, I thought that you were saying that acts that don't lead to reproduction would be abberations. Have I misunderstood? I'm not trying to be difficult, it's just that this isn't clear.


"Anti-life/anti-species could only be applied to those sexual acts (not non-acts) which were engaged in instead of those that at least were theoretically part of the reproductive process."

Again, there seems to be an emphasis on reproduction when one is determining if an act engaged in counts as anti-life or anti-speices. So, is a sex act "anti-life" if there is zero chance of reproduction?

Ana said...

"In any case, if you want to go the naturalistic route, you should not only be complaining about homosexuality, but against birth control, eyeglasses, automobiles, and the internet- none of those things is "natural" either".

Zilch, you seem to assume I don't oppose birth control (assuming by birth contol, you mean contraceptive sex -- no, they are not perfectly synonymous). Contraceptive sex is also unnatural, per the definition of unnatural I have previously provided.

You have confused the way I used the word "natural". Let me back up. A given word may have a common existence among multiple branches of knowledge/study, e.g. philosophy, medical science, law, geography. However, the definition may vary from branch to branch.

You seem to think I use the word "natural" to mean, the opposite of an artificially created product (herbs vs Tylenol).

When I use the word "natural" I am using it philosophically. If I were using it in an exclusively biological sense, why would I have stated: "just like lying is a disordered use of speech". ?

SLW said...

David,
I understand the confusion, I will try to be clearer.

You did not misunderstand my earlier comments-- reproductivity is what gives underlying purpose to sexual acts. There are aspects to sex acts which build purpose on top of that foundation, of course, but what cannot be built on that foundation could be nothing other than aberrations.

Courtship "rituals" and sex-bonding between a male and female which are not intended to be reproductive would not be aberrations because they build on that foundation (i.e. they either are engaged in with the thought that reproductive activities could follow or that they preceeded)

David said...

I think that this is now clearer.

"What cannot be built on that foundation (of reproductivity) could be nothing other than aberrations. ... They either are engaged in with the thought that reproductive activities could follow or that they preceeded."

And what if reproductive activities could not follow and did not preceed? Could we then call the sex acts abberations?

Ana said...

"Is any sex act that has zero chance of leading to reproduction..."

This is where the confusion arises. When, in appeal to natural law, we say the sex must be procreative, we do not mean that the sex must produce a child. Nor do we mean, that a child is likely to be conceived.

We mean, the bodies' procreative features are respected (not willfully obstructed for the purpose of thwarting conception), and the sexual act conforms to the manner in which children are conceived. And there's only one sexual act that does that: coitus.

SLW said...

David,
I think that is the framework I am suggesting.

So, acts between a male and female which can lead to reproduction (even if it's years away) or which are continued after reproduction (even if it's years prior) would not be aberrations. Whereas acts between a male and male or female and female would never fit into this framework.

SLW said...

Ana,
Excellent point.

bossmanham said...

Agreed. Better to avoid terms like "natural".

That's kind of a silly thing to say. If there are purposed ends for acts, ways the acts ought to be, then there clearly are natural and unnatural ways of performing those acts. If sexual intercourse is purposed for conception, bonding of a married (man and woman) couple, and pleasure of that couple then two of the three purposed ends are not being fulfilled in homosexual intercourse.

So, I thought that you were saying that acts that don't lead to reproduction would be abberations.

Some of the time the act naturally doesn't lead to conception. The woman has a *dum dum dum* NATURAL cycle which her body goes through. If you perform a sexual act at that point, then naturally conception will not happen. However, if you introduce unnatural substances into that act, then it becomes aberrational. Yup, contraception is an evil.

Ana said...

(cont.)

That is why procreative sex is descibed as being open to life.

bossmanham said...

Oh my goodness, Ana. Wait for the claims that we hate the planet and puppies and that we want overpopulation and eventual extinction of the human species. Just wait, lol.

Ana said...

Indeed Brennon -- not to mention the claims that we are "anti-women" and we just want to subjugate them. Right, because encouraging women to embrace their femininity is soooo hateful and oppresive.

bossmanham said...

I FORCE YOU TO HAVE BEHBEH!!!

David said...
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David said...
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David said...

I apologize, but I have to ask. What about masturbation? Aberration? Unnatural? Anti-life. I'm serious. What's the answer?

Brennon: “Yup, contraception is an evil.”

Uh, boy. So, you’re one of those. Well, I guess that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.


Back to the main event.


Brennon: "There clearly are natural and unnatural ways of performing those acts."

Really? How do you define natural and unnatural? I believe that Zilch has already pointed out the difficulties of the word "natural".


Ana:"And there's only one sexual act that does that: coitus."

Any sex acts other than the penis in the vagina are "unnatural" or somehow violate "natural law"?


SLW: "So, acts between a male and female which can lead to reproduction (even if it's years away) or which are continued after reproduction (even if it's years prior) would not be aberrations. Whereas acts between a male and male or female and female would never fit into this framework."

Well, I give you credit for a framework that saves a good bit of most people’s sex lives (looks like this give the green light to non-productive oral sex), but this is a mighty, mighty broad framework, isn’t it?

First, ever heard of artificial insemination? Yes, in the case of two females, you'd need a sperm donor, but the actual fertilization event could easily be tied to a sex act. A guy masturbates, one woman introduces the semen into another woman during sex, and a baby is made. A sex act that leads to reproduction is good, natural and non-aberrant, right? This is all about sex acts, right? Nothing in here about the number of people involved. You know, I think that you're going to find that your framework isn't going to be able to keep up with modern technology and the many ways in which we can now conceive.

Second, lots and lots of heterosexuals are sterile. Could be congenital, could be the result of childhood disease, could be by tubal ligation, vasectomy, menpause, etc. Lots of possibilities here. Certainly, there are plenty of examples of relationships that begin after the point of sterilization, and therefore there was never a change of reproduction at any point in the relationship. Many straights go their entire lives without ever having kids, and they go to great lengths to never have kids (see sterilization above). Some straights live their entire sexual lives without any chance of reproduction. None. A guy has mumps as a kid, and that’s the ball game.

So, their sex acts would be aberrant?

Look all, if you want to say that the gay thing is bad, because you believe that the Bible says it's bad, then knock yourselves out.


But when you try to (a) tie terms like or “natural” or “non-aberrant” specifically to reproductive sex and (b) tie “anti-life” and “unnatural” or “aberrant” to non-reproductive sex, then I think that you are making a big mistake.

Reproductive technology is outpacing your terminology and your efforts to divide the world into two distinct boxes. It's also very difficult to put this dichotomy into practice without denigrating the sex lives of many, many heterosexuals. In your efforts to find yet another way of putting down gays, you put down a lot of heterosexuals as well. And we don’t appreciate it.

In the end, life ain't as simple as “good sex must be tied to reproduction”, and everything else is bad. Real life doesn’t fit into nice, neat little boxes. Life isn't that simple, and sex really, really isn't that simple.

David said...

"Oh my goodness, Ana. Wait for the claims that we hate the planet and puppies and that we want overpopulation and eventual extinction of the human species."

Oh for the love of Bugs Bunny. I'm not going to do this, so stop crying when no one is hitting you.


"Indeed Brennon -- not to mention the claims that we are "anti-women" and we just want to subjugate them. Right, because encouraging women to embrace their femininity is soooo hateful and oppresive."

To repeat, I'm not going to do this, so stop crying when no one is hitting you.


"I FORCE YOU TO HAVE BEHBEH!!!"

Actually, as long as you brought it up, in many cultures this is true. Women really ARE forced to have babies. They have no choice. Sex is often akin to rape. You think that this is funny?

SLW said...

David,
I think you're missing the simple truth of the framework I offered. Alex challenged those who believe homosexuality is evil to justify that belief apart from the assertion that God said it was. Myself, Ana, and Bossmanham have offered some naturalistic reasoning that would meet that challenge. Without God in the picture, evil becomes nonsensical (as far as I see it), and the likelihood is that anyone who is not a theist would never be convinced of such a premise. I think it can be demonstrated that homosexuality is aberrational on a naturalistic basis, and that we have done that.

As far as the advancement of technology, that is a red herring. If artificial methods of impregnation are pursued in order to avoid the natural progression of such things, that is clearly aberrational. If they are pursued because the natural means are impossible, I think one would still have to conclude that they are aberrational, but I suggest they would not be so in the same way that intentional avoidance would be.

As far as masturbation, it would fall into the aberrational classification, but I would suggest that it is not of the same ilk as homosexual sex.

Birth control would not be an issue in the framework I offered so long as it was used within the confines of a sexual relationship that was planning when to have kids as opposed to not having them at all. I think Ana and Bossmanham would disagree with me from their perspectives.

This situation of older folk engaging in sex without the prospect of children fails being aberration, because it still fits within the theoretical framework I offered.

Ana said...

"I apologize, but I have to ask. What about masturbation"?

Unnatural. All one needs to do is scroll up to where I said (concerning homosexuality) that the "sexual organs are used in a manner that opposes the end for which they exist." Masturbation is included in the category of sexual moral disorder. It is a solitary act of pleasure, disassociated entirely from the unitive and procreative purpose of the sexual powers, which are to be used for sexual union, not self-centered gratification.

A person's natural response, after having masturbated, would be to feel disgust. "What. did. I. just. do.? I did not have sex with myself, but I sure tried to." However, our hyper-sexualized society does not want people to feel shame, in fact wants people to feel good about themselves, for masturbating.

And of course, the pornography industry benefits from it. It's goal is to get the audience to masturbate ... and thereby become addicted to pornography.

David said...

"Myself, Ana, and Bossmanham have offered some naturalistic reasoning that would meet that challenge."

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comments, but I’m not sure that you’ve accomplished what you say you’ve accomplished. If anything, the three of you have illustrated just how difficult it is to define terms like “aberrant”, “natural”, “anti-life”, etc. I mean,

Without appealing to the Bible (and that’s the goal here, right?), what exactly does unnatural or aberrational or anti-life really mean when it comes to sex and/or conception?

For example, is it unnatural or aberrational if a heterosexual couple uses in vitro fertilization or a sperm or egg donor? You seem to be suggesting that it’s aberrant if gays do it, but what about straights? What’s the difference? What’s natural about anything we do in medicine these days?

If any sex act that results in conception is not aberrational, then what’s wrong with my male masturbation/two woman having sex scenario? It was productive, was it not? The women were open to life, right? It seems to meet all of the non-biblical criteria for non-aberrant.


Putting aside specific questions, look at the differences between your answers and Brennon’s answers. Using your broad framework (which I sincerely appreciate as more moderate), practically any heterosexual sex act imaginable would be non-aberrant (although I think you skipped over my questions about sterility and couples that don’t want kid.) The act could literally occur at a point in time that is decades removed from any possibility of reproductive productivity, and it would still count as non-aberrant. At the other end of the spectrum, Brennon appears to be saying that if a healthy couples in their twenties at the peak of their fertility would chose to use a condom, then that’s quite aberrant and a great evil to boot. According to Brennon, it appears that there would be a very long list of heterosexual sex acts that would be aberrant. So, again, what is “aberrant”?

Further, as I said, even if you could agree on the definitions of these terms, it’s awfully hard to define these terms in such a way as to put gay sex acts in one neat little box that says “anti-life” aberrant without also condemning a wide range of heterosexual sex to the same box? This is especially true for those who don’t have kids or can’t have kids or those who use "unnatural methods" to have kids. So, do you really want to go there?

I really think that when you wander into trying to demonstrate that homosexuality is aberrational on a naturalistic basis, you are wandering into a swamp. Stick to calling things evil because the Bible says so. I’ll disagree, but at least, it’s a simple.

David said...

"A person's natural response, after having masturbated, would be to feel disgust."

Hmm, I guess that I'm just not natural then. Dont' mean to be rude, just being honest.

zilch said...

David has nicely covered the difficulty of defining "natural" and "aberrant" here, as far as sexual practices go. Just one question for the Christians here: do you believe that any sexual act, or actually any act at all, can always be classified as either "aberrant" or "not abberant"? Are there any gray zones for you, or is there a hard and fast line? The same question goes, of course, for "sinful".

I ask because it seems to me that many if not most theists seem to believe that the world can be neatly divided up this way, which is one of the problems I have with theism: it seeks to impose a dualism on a world which is far too complex to be so pigeonholed.

Now, of course I recognize that we limited humans, in order to get anything done at all, must constantly engage in pigeonholing of one sort or another- this starts with using words which divide up the world into neat packages of concepts. We must have laws, we must make yes or no decision, we must draw lines, whether or not we are theists.

This is all perfectly natural and necessary. The trouble comes, imho, when people start deifying these lines and claim that they are more than just the way we are constrained to make decisions, but rather are a reflection of the way the world really is. And actually, that wouldn't really bother me either- if I say that I don't steal because it hurts others, and you say you don't steal because God says not to, then there's no real clash.

But the problem comes when people use their alleged God-given beliefs to justify hurting others- say by discriminating against gays. Unless you can demonstrate that gays are hurting you or others in some way, then, with all due respect, you should keep your beliefs out of laws which affect all of us.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

David has nicely covered the difficulty of defining "natural" and "aberrant" here, as far as sexual practices go

No he hasn't. He's just displayed the silliness of your position. You have to deny that the categories of natural and unnatural, which is retarded.

Just one question for the Christians here: do you believe that any sexual act, or actually any act at all, can always be classified as either "aberrant" or "not abberant"?

There are morally neutral acts.

I ask because it seems to me that many if not most theists seem to believe that the world can be neatly divided up this way

So why do you want to pigeonhole it into a trism? Good ,evil, and gray? This objection is meaningless.

Unless you can demonstrate that gays are hurting you or others in some way, then, with all due respect, you should keep your beliefs out of laws which affect all of us.

Can you demonstrate that I'm hurting anyone? Then with all due respect keep your beliefs out of the laws which affect us all. This standard would prohibit any laws.

David said...

"You have to deny that the categories of natural and unnatural, which is retarded."

Retarded? Tee, hee. Now THERE'S a powerful argument.

Don't forget, Sister Sarah says it's bad to use the R-word! No treat for you!

bossmanham said...

Retarded? Tee, hee. Now THERE'S a powerful argument.

So you're saying it doesn't follow the ...natural progression of an argument? What what?

SLW said...

Zilch and David,
Honestly, I am not seeing the difficulty that you claim. Whether an approach like Ana's, or an approach like mine is used, answers come forth fairly easily, and straitforwardly. That you don't like the answers, well, that's another issue.

It is not surprising at all to me that starting from naturalistic assumptions, a scale would arise in which homosexuality, masturbation, some high tech impositions, and even birth control would be considered aberrant. From a non-theistic point of view, that would go a long way toward explaining why so many religious people carry such convictions. If God isn't real, something natural would have to be the cause of such widespread thinking.

As far as legal issues go, Brennon's post clearly stated the issue was not peering behind closed doors to interfere with the private practices of people, but legitimizing that which was illegitimate. If one wants the world with one voice to say homosexuality is normal, that will never happen. I suppose the drug addict, alcoholic, or pedophile could hope wanly for similar treatment. Some things that are doable by humans are not normal in the practice of the preponderance of humans and will be considered aberrant as a result.

David said...

Brennon,

"What what?"

I'm sorry, but your use of the word "retarded" made me laugh. It took me back to my playground days.

"You're retarded"!

"No, you're retarded!".

I'm going to have to sic Sister Sarah on you! Using the R-word makes you a bad Brennon!


SLW,

"I am not seeing the difficulty that you claim. Whether an approach like Ana's, or an approach like mine is used, answers come forth fairly easily, and straitforwardly."

If it's easy and strightforward, why do you and Ana and Brennon come up with different answers to questions about specific sex acts or technologies? Why do you have different frameworks? You should be in complete agreement about what is "natural" or what is "aberrant", but that's not how it goes in practice.


"It is not surprising at all to me that starting from naturalistic assumptions, a scale would arise in which homosexuality, masturbation, some high tech impositions, and even birth control would be considered aberrant."

Just to clarify, are we back to saying that "aberrant" applies to non-productive acts? If so, then oral sex, sex involving sterile individuals, etc., really would have to be considered aberrant acts. They are clearly non-productive. Even if an act could have been procreative at some point in the distant past, it doesn't change the reality that post-menopausal sex is non-productive, and therefore, aberrant. And what do we say about those who are sterile before they ever have sex?


On the other hand, masturbation to produce semen for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization would clearly be productive and procreative and non-aberrant. My scenario with the two gay women and the masturbating man would also be non-aberrant. Anything that at any point makes a bady is non-aberrant.


I understand the desire to find non-biblical negative or derogatory labels for gay sex acts. However, in practice, it's a very difficult thing to do. Terms are hard to define, especially "natural". You're going to make the endless number of exceptions that are necessary to keep staight sex in the "good box" and gay sex in the "bad box". It's just a swamp.

Stick to the Bible. It's easier.

bossmanham said...

I'm sorry, but your use of the word "retarded" made me laugh. It took me back to my playground days.

Umm...no comment.

SLW said...

David,
Just to clarify, are we back to saying that "aberrant" applies to non-productive acts? If so, then oral sex, sex involving sterile individuals, etc., really would have to be considered aberrant acts. They are clearly non-productive. Even if an act could have been procreative at some point in the distant past, it doesn't change the reality that post-menopausal sex is non-productive, and therefore, aberrant. And what do we say about those who are sterile before they ever have sex?

Asked and answered.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Oops, typos. Let's try again.

"Asked and answered."

Well, first, I don't think that you answered the question about those who were sterile before they began to have sex.

Now, you did give an answer that involved a a very, very broadly defined "framework". While I appreciated it's breadth (as it allowed for many interesting sexual activities), at the same time, it also came very close to completly severing the relationship between "non-aberrant" and "reproductive" in that you would include many things that are not even remotely "reproductive" under the catagory of "non-aberrant".

An oral sex act performed today is "non-aberrant" and considered "productive", because somehow this is connected to making babies twenty years later? No one has ever conceived by oral sex. Doesn't matter if you are gay or straight. This doesn't make babies.

A post-menopausal sex act performed today is "non-aberrant" despite any hope of production, because fifty years ago, this might have made a baby? Once a woman stops release eggs, she cannot get pregnant. Doesn't matter if you are gay or straight. No eggs, no babies.

It's not that I don't follow what you're saying. But in the case of numerous straight sex acts, you're really, really having to stretch here to maintain even a weak connection between "non-aberrant" and "reproductive". And I'm not sure how you can avoid labeling sex involving sterile individuals as "aberrant". It just doesn't work.

zilch said...

Ah, the old Argumentum ad Retardum ploy. C'mon, boss, you can do better than that. And how about answering my question: can you draw a line between "natural" and "aberrant"?

bossmanham said...

can you draw a line between "natural" and "aberrant"?

uh haven't I already done that?

bossmanham said...

SLW, david has the nasty habit of acting like a question wasn't answered when in fact it has been at least half a dozen times.

David, what Ana said above would also apply to the question of sterility. In principle, as in "as defined", sex is intended for certain ends. That some people may lack the physical ability to achieve those ends doesn't mean they can't perform the act in principle as it was intended. People who are sterile by no choice of their own can still perform the act as it was intended, even though physically one of the ends is impossible to achieve.

Or as Ana said:

We mean, the bodies' procreative features are respected (not willfully obstructed for the purpose of thwarting conception), and the sexual act conforms to the manner in which children are conceived. And there's only one sexual act that does that: coitus.

Don't act like this hasn't been answered.

David said...

"Don't act like this hasn't been answered."

Actually, you seemed to have changed the question. I was asking a question about the link between "production" and "non-aberrent", because "non-aberrant" has been defined as acts that are productive. Non-aberrant acts are non-aberrant because they are productive.

Now you've brought in the concept of "intent". That's a different matter, isn't it?

So, you said...

"Sex is intended for certain ends."

So, ANY sex acts that are consciously and deliberatly NOT intended to make babies would be called...?

And ANY sex acts that ARE intended to produce babies would be called...?

bossmanham said...

Now you've brought in the concept of "intent". That's a different matter, isn't it?

Whose intent?

And no, I answered the issue you brought up about sterility or post menopausal sex. Stop asking a question when it's been answered.

bossmanham said...

So, ANY sex acts that are consciously and deliberatly NOT intended to make babies would be called...?

If performed in way that purposely obstructs the possibility of procreation, it would be aberrant/evil/sinful.

If you know exactly where the woman's natural cycle is and you perform the act such that you're not introducing foreign contraceptives in, but are performing it in principle the way it was intended and not obstructing the procreative possibility, then that's simply having knowledge of the natural process.

David said...

"Stop asking a question when it's been answered."

I didn't aks the question about sterility or post-menopausal sex again. That question was about the link between the act and "production".

This time, I asked qustions about intent.

You said...

"Sex is intended for certain ends."

So, ANY sex acts that are consciously and deliberatly NOT intended to make babies would be called...?

And ANY sex acts that ARE intended to produce babies would be called...?

SLW said...

David,
If you recall, I said the foundation of determining the natural purpose of sexual acts was reproductive. On that foundation, there are other purposes, that while not immediately serving the specificity of reproduction are nonetheless part of that overall process. This includes foreplay, sexual acts which are bonding between a reproductive pair but not immediately reproductive, and those acts preformed by a bonded pair past reproductive ability.

This really is quite simple, and we have responded to your "but what abouts." You simply refuse to see the internally cohesive and consistent logic that this approach produces.

SLW said...

Not to throw a wrench in the discussion, but I actually think the divine authority (i.e. Biblical) produces a more liberal approach to determining appropriate sexuality than does the naturalistic one.

David said...

Ah, I see I received a partial answer from Brennon while I was posting the previous comment.

So. Oral sex? Vasectomies? Tubal ligations? These would be aberrant/evil/sinful?

Why is the rhythm method not aberrant/evil/sinful? By avoiding sex during times of high fertility, aren't you "obstructing" the procreative possibility. Aren't you making a conscious, deliberate and "unnatural" effort to avoid "production", the thing that makes sex "non-aberrant"?


And let's not forget the other question I asked.

And ANY sex acts that ARE intended to produce babies would be called...?

David said...

“If you recall, I said the foundation of determining the natural purpose of sexual acts was reproductive. On that foundation, there are other purposes, that while not immediately serving the specificity of reproduction are nonetheless part of that overall process. “

I dunno, as I said before, this really seems like a stretch. If there’s no chance of reproduction, there’s no foundation for the act, and that goes for any and all parts of the sex act.


“This includes foreplay, sexual acts which are bonding between a reproductive pair but not immediately reproductive, and those acts preformed by a bonded pair past reproductive ability.”

Those acts performed by bonded pairs past reproductive ability would seem to have little to do with reproduction. The same is true in the case of sterility.

Regardless of the original intent or purpose (i.e. reproduction), the original intent is inoperative in these cases. I understand that in different contexts or situations, the parts may function to make babies. But in the context or situation of sterility, etc., the parts cannot possible carry out the intent. If the parts are intended for reproduction, if the natural purpose is reproduction, and if the couple knows with total certainty that the intent or purpose cannot be fulfilled, what is the point of the act? There can be no production. The actions are aberrant.

Whether a man ejaculates into a sterile woman or into a man, the result is the same. In both cases, there is no way that a reproductive purpose can be fulfilled. Basically, in both cases, the partners are doing this to have a good time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s sex without a “foundation”. From a reproductive point of view, it’s pointless. If aberration is linked to reproduction, the acts are aberrant.


“This really is quite simple, and we have responded to your "but what abouts." You simply refuse to see the internally cohesive and consistent logic that this approach produces.”

It’s by raising the “but what abouts” that we test the internal cohesiveness and the consistency of the logic. For example, if there is an internal cohesiveness and consistent logic, then you, Brennon and Amy should come to the same conclusions about particular sex acts. However, I don’t think that this is what has happened. As another example, no one can tell me if my two women/masturbating man is an example of a non-aberrant sex act. So, the logic appears to have its limits.


“Not to throw a wrench in the discussion, but I actually think the divine authority (i.e. Biblical) produces a more liberal approach to determining appropriate sexuality than does the naturalistic one.”

Well, I honestly don’t know how to begin to use a “naturalistic” approach to sexuality. What does “natural” even mean? As I’ve said, I think that one is much better off avoiding the whole approach to begin with.

SLW said...

David,
You should know full well that naturalistic in this regard means without invoking diety. I don't think you're obtuse, so I'll chalk up your responses as evidence you just like to argue.

Ana said...
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Ana said...

Dave,

"Hmm, I guess that I'm just not natural then. Dont' mean to be rude, just being honest."

My comments are not intended as personal attacks against you as a human being with dignity. But, a criticism of behavior that so many people today, at best, treat as morally trivial.

I offer three principal reasons for why shame of masturbation has been lost:

- The mentality of our current society, is conducive to masturbation
- Masturbation is common. And this in turn, is common knowledge.
- Frequency of masturbation, in an individual person, morally desensitizes that person.

The second point, is important. People take for granted that if a certain behavior is common,
then it must be natural -- that is must be morally fine. And knowledge of its commonality,
makes it more comforable for an individual person to engage in that behavior because
they rationalize : "Well, other people do it".


But the "commonality indicates moral permissibility" logic is not applied consistently. Consider, that infedility is common. Do we conclude that infedelity is morally
neutral or morally good?

The third point is also worth emphasizing: A person's ability to recognize his/her moral fault lessens, as the person because more and more immersed in that fault. A man who beats his child for the first time, may have true remorse afterwards. But if he does it a second time, third time, etc,
to where it becomes habitual he will surely get to the point, to where -- without outside help -- he cannot identify his action as immoral.

Clouded judgement due to persistent participation in that which is immoral, is right at the heart of the meaning "slave to sin", to use a Scriptural phrase.

Ana said...

*My apologies. I called you "Dave" instead of David.

thechemistscorner said...

Homosexuality is natural too, SLW. Or do you suppose bonobos learned it from humans after the Fall?

Chimps are also known to engage in infanticide. Does this mean murdering your offspring is acceptable? The difference is that humans are not merely animals.

Ana said...

Yes, procured sterlilization is wrong. Oral sex -- needs defining.

If "oral sex" is understood to mean a stand alone sexual act -- (e.g. male climaxes outside of the female reproductive tract) -- in other words, is isolated from (not embedded within) unitive and procreative sex, yes, wrong.

David said...

"You should know full well that naturalistic in this regard means without invoking diety. I don't think you're obtuse, so I'll chalk up your responses as evidence you just like to argue."

No,no, I'm not trying to be argumentative in the least. I understood full well that you were talking about "without invoking the deity". I'm not sure what I said to make you think that I didn't understand or was pretending to not understand.

As should be clear by now, I really do think that it's quite difficult to determine appropriate sexuality using a naturalistic approach. This is exactly what I've been talking about this whole time. My criticism has been directed at your efforts to use terms like "natural" and "unnatural" as part of a determination of appropriate sexuality. When you tried the naturalistic approach (non-biblical approach), it led into a swamp.

So, I don't know how to address the question of whether the divine authority works produces a more liberal outcome than the naturalistic approach, because I don't know what the naturalistic approach would actually be. How can one do a comparison?

Ana said...

"By avoiding sex during times of high fertility, aren't you "obstructing" the procreative possibility.

Abstinence is passive, it does not disrupt the procreative process at all.

Contraception, on the otherhand, does, because it is interference. By definition, contraception alters the body physically or chemically to upset the body's procreative process through the use of artificial devices /barriers/ hormones.

SLW said...

David,
Your approach (I really do not know your approach, I'm extrapolating from your objections to mine) to a naturalistic understanding of appropriate and inappropriate sex would seem to have no proscriptions whatsoever. Is there anything that can be said about normalcy vs abnormal in your view?

David said...

“My comments are not intended as personal attacks against you as a human being with dignity. “

No problem, I didn’t see this as a personal attack at all. It’s also fine to call me Dave.

My response was intended to address your comments about the natural/unnatural question. I understand that you see this as a moral wrong, but my focus has been on the questions of natural/unnatural or aberrant/non-aberrant. These were the terms under discussion. You said that you thought it was “unnatural”, and that answered my question.

In all seriousness, I can’t see masturbation as anything other than natural. I don’t think that it “naturally” generates feelings of disgust. To steal an old line, it’s sex with someone I love.

“Yes, procured sterlilization is wrong. If "oral sex" is understood to mean a stand alone sexual act -- (e.g. male climaxes outside of the female reproductive tract) -- in other words, is isolated from (not embedded within) unitive and procreative sex, yes, wrong.”

Yes, this is the type of oral sex I was referring to. Thank you for your answer.

David said...

"Abstinence is passive, it does not disrupt the procreative process at all."

Not entirely. If I feel like having sex, and I deliberately avoid sex to short circuit that which would occur naturally (if you'll pardon the expression), then I'm making an active decision. I'm actively changing my behavior so that I can de-couple sex from its "intended purpose". I'm consciously choosing to do sex in such a way as to avoid its productive outcome. Yes, this does "disrupt the procreative process", because I wanted to have sex, but I didn't...to avoid unwanted procreation.

David said...

"Your approach (I really do not know your approach, I'm extrapolating from your objections to mine) to a naturalistic understanding of appropriate and inappropriate sex would seem to have no proscriptions whatsoever. Is there anything that can be said about normalcy vs abnormal in your view?"

Primum non nocere.

It's not perfect, but then again, I'm not claiming that it is.

SLW said...

David,
How would one justify that stance apart from invoking diety? Especially, in view of the behavior of other species?

David said...

"How would one justify that stance apart from invoking diety?"

Depends what you mean by "justify".

David said...

Oh, by the way, I meant to ask if you thought oral sex (as we've defined it here) is either unnatural or aberrant.

Would this be an example of an act that while not immediately serving the specificity of reproduction is nonetheless part of that overall process?

SLW said...

If it is an avoidance of reproductive sex, it would be aberrant, if it was part of the process of reproductive sex, it would be non-aberrant.

David said...

Sorry, but I did have one more thought.

You know, even appeals to divine authority can produce inconsistent results. Consider the variety of stances held by a variety of Christians on a variety of sexual questions. Ask a random selection of Christians what God says about Sex Act X, Y and Z, and you'll likely to get some significant disagreement, even though all appeal to the same authority.

Birth control is a very obvious case in point. Everyone may invoke the deity to justify their positions, but the positions are often quite different from each other. Some say condoms are ok, some say they're evil. So, using divine authority, what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate methods of birth control? Who knows?

SLW said...

David,
If you don't like justify, try validate, prove, demonstrate naturalistically, etc.

David said...

If it is an avoidance of reproductive sex, it would be aberrant, if it was part of the process of reproductive sex, it would be non-aberrant.

I'm not sure that I follow. We're defining oral sex as including ejaculation in the mouth. How can this be a part of the process of reproductive sex?

David said...

I suspect that we're getting into something that goes way beyond sex here. But...

Ok, validate then.

I don't want to be harmed, I don't want those I love harmed, you don't want to be harmed, you don't want those you love harmed. We're going to try to live together in a social group, so we agree to try to avoid harming each other. Rape harms, so thumbs down. Masturbation doesn't, so thumbs up.

It's validated by the need to get along. It's validated by the resulting lower levels of harm, and that's what we wanted in the first place. Again, it's not perfect, but if it's all we got, then we'll have to make do with it.

SLW said...

You know, even appeals to divine authority can produce inconsistent results. Consider the variety of stances held...

The Catholic approach aligns quite nicely with a naturalistic approach, even the one we've been discussing here. I don't know even that practice would even "need" to invoke deity to arrive at its codification.

A biblical approach is more liberal. Only four proscriptions are specified in the Bible:
1) Homosexual sex
2) Bestial sex
3) Adulterous sex
4) Fornication.
Masturbation, oral and anal sex are not mentioned nor therefore specifically proscribed.

SLW said...

Sorry David, I missed that specificity. Aberrant.

SLW said...

David,
Without a higher authority to invoke, your validation is only the banner of the self-serving who are weak. It certainly is not the general pattern of nature, and to the contrary is a disservice to the dominant. The dominant is capable of taking and holding what he wants, and doing so benefits the species by passing on superior genes.

David said...

"The Catholic approach aligns quite nicely with a naturalistic approach, even the one we've been discussing here. I don't know even that practice would even "need" to invoke deity to arrive at its codification."

So, do you agree with the Catholic church with respect to what forms of birth control are evil, immoral and/or sinful? Is the Catholic church's position "biblical"?

And haven't we already seen that the naturalistic approach has major problems? What do "natural" and "unnatural" mean with respect to human behavior? Humans often use their natural brains and decide that they will be better off with fewer kids, and so they use condoms, etc. Is this natural? Why or why not?



"Masturbation, oral and anal sex are not mentioned nor therefore specifically proscribed."

Well, that's a positive thing.

But obviously, there are plenty of Christians who say one or more of these things are immoral, sinful and evil. So, what authority are they appealing to when they draw these conclusions? Is oral sex, etc., moral or not? How can you tell?

David said...

"Sorry David, I missed that specificity. Aberrant."

Clear enough. But why would this *not* be an example of an act that while not immediately serving the specificity of reproduction is nonetheless part of that overall process? You know, good oral sex has a way of really bonding a male to a female, and you've made it clear that the immediate act need not result in conception.


"Without a higher authority to invoke, your validation is only the banner of the self-serving who are weak. It certainly is not the general pattern of nature, and to the contrary is a disservice to the dominant. The dominant is capable of taking and holding what he wants, and doing so benefits the species by passing on superior genes."

Yeah, I knew this is where this would go. I’d have put money on it. Like I said, we're going well beyond just sex now.

You’re assuming that an higher authority exists to be invoked. Begs the question. In reality, we may have no choice but to get along without a “higher authority” intervening to provide specific rules. Going to be harder to do it this way; but if that’s reality, then that’s reality.

Appeals to “general patterns of nature” ignore the human capacity to reason. In fact, we often don’t do the “natural thing” (I assume you think the natural thing would be the whole dominant passing on genes, etc). Our behavior is clearly influenced by our “natural” genes, but we have natural brains, and we can use them.

But if you want to play the pass along the genes game, cooperative societies in which the “weak” work together may be more successful in the long run than the alternatives. Humans are social animals, and we form societies, cooperative groups, cultures with rules to reduce the harm to each other, etc. There are a lot of ways to pass on one’s genes, and they don’t all involve the strong crushing the weak. More than one way to skin a cat when you’re a social animal.

Besides, my validation gives a BIG thumbs up to oral sex! Show me a guy who’s not in favor of THAT!

bossmanham said...

So. Oral sex? Vasectomies? Tubal ligations? These would be aberrant/evil/sinful?

Did I stutter?

Why is the rhythm method not aberrant/evil/sinful?

Because you are performing the act in principle in the way intended. I just said that. Read for goodness sake. For the love of all that is good, read--what--I--wrote!!!

And ANY sex acts that ARE intended to produce babies would be called...?

Uh, I listed three things sex is naturally intended for. Go read those.

Masturbation is an act that causes lustful thoughts and cannot be done in isolation from it. Oral and anal sex can be a part of appropriate foreplay but as they are not performing the sexual act as intended they are inappropriate standalone acts.

SLW said...

David,
So, do you agree with the Catholic church with respect to what forms of birth control are evil, immoral and/or sinful? Is the Catholic church's position "biblical"?

No, I do not personally agree with the Catholic Church's teaching on things sexual (or much else for that matter), primarily because I do not see it as biblical. My arguments and assertions in this discussion have risen from Alex's challenge to demonstrate that there are non-theistic ways to show that homosexuality is evil. My personal views are theistic and rely on the Bible, so I actually do believe homosexuality is evil. In this exercise, with one hand tied behind my back (not invoking theistic authority), it has had to suffice to show that there are naturalistic reasons to conclude homosexuality is aberrant.

You’re assuming that an higher authority exists to be invoked. Begs the question.
I am assuming nothing of the sort. I am assuming that is your viewpoint. If you have no higher authority to invoke, then all you have is the law of tooth and claw.

Our behavior is clearly influenced by our “natural” genes, but we have natural brains, and we can use them.

Yes, and what in human history would lead you to think that humans uninfluenced by the Gospel use those natural enablements to live by primum non nocere? Even under the influence of the gospel, it's a jungle out there. It seems to me our natural brains are used to get what we can for ourselves.

cooperative societies in which the “weak” work together may be more successful in the long run than the alternatives. Humans are social animals, and we form societies, cooperative groups, cultures with rules to reduce the harm to each other, etc.

Nice theory, where does it work?

zilch said...

I said:

Homosexuality is natural too, SLW. Or do you suppose bonobos learned it from humans after the Fall?

the chemist replied:

Chimps are also known to engage in infanticide. Does this mean murdering your offspring is acceptable? The difference is that humans are not merely animals.

I was replying to the assertion here that homosexuality is "unnatural". I was not saying that humans should base their behavior on what other animals do; in fact, I specifically mentioned the murder rate amongst chimps as something that we should not necessarily emulate. You seem to think that there are only two alternatives for ideals of behavior: the "natural" world of non-human animals, or the Bible. But there are other alternatives. Not because we humans are not animals- we are, obviously- but because we are extraordinarily intelligent animals, who can, through reason and culture, make decisions that no other animal can: for instance, to voluntarily limit the number of children we produce, or to anathematize murder. No Bible, or non-human model, necessary.

And boss- no, you didn't delineate your lines precisely. Is oral sex, for instance, a sin if the man comes in his wife's mouth and thus doesn't immediately impregnate her a sin, if it leads to a closeness which results in conception later on? You therefore disagree with SLW, as far as I can tell. What of oral sex that doesn't lead to orgasm, but also doesn't lead immediately to conception? I don't see any line here.

Kudos to SLW and Ana, btw, for keeping this discussion civil, even though you obviously disagree with David and me. Again- if any of you are ever in Vienna, or in the SF Bay Area in the summer, please drop me a line, and lunch is on me.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

John said...

David,

One answer is that homosexuality is evolutionarily disadvantageous, hence considered aberrant.

Just like incest, or cannibalism.

David said...

Brennon,

“Did I stutter?”

Does this answer the question?


“Because you are performing the act (rhythm method) in principle in the way intended.”

No, you’re not. You are performing the act in a manner deliberately designed to thwart the intent. The intent is reproduction, right?


“Uh, I listed three things sex is naturally intended for. Go read those.”

Sex is intended for reproduction. So, my masturbating man/two gay women scenario gets the thumbs up.


“Masturbation is an act that causes lustful thoughts and cannot be done in isolation from it.”

What if my wife is out of town and unavailable, and I’m fantasizing about my wife while I masturbate?


“Oral and anal sex can be a part of appropriate foreplay but as they are not performing the sexual act as intended they are inappropriate standalone acts.”

And if they lead to bonding that later leads to babies?

David said...

SLW,

“No, I do not personally agree with the Catholic Church's teaching on things sexual (or much else for that matter), primarily because I do not see it as biblical.”

Fair enough; I can’t say that I’m a fan of the Catholic Church, either. So, just to be sure I understand, you would accept a longer list of birth control methods as being acceptable. Longer that that list accepted by the Catholic Church or by Ana and Brennon. Yes? Not trying to be a pain, just want to be sure I understand.


“In this exercise...it has had to suffice to show that there are naturalistic reasons to conclude homosexuality is aberrant.”

Well, I think we’ve seen that there are some problems with the “aberrant” thing. I can see some homosexual acts as “productive”, and I think that your use of the term is very, very problematic when it comes to a variety of straight sex acts. I believe that there was some disagreement among you, Ana and Brennon as to which acts are aberrant and which are not. In some cases, one would have to know the future before one could decide if something is aberrant or not. Also, I’m afraid that we would have to label a lot of straight acts as “aberrant” when they don’t strike me as aberrant in the least. It’s a tricky thing, this aberrant thing.


“If you have no higher authority to invoke, then all you have is the law of tooth and claw.”

And brains, too.


"Yes, and what in human history would lead you to think that humans uninfluenced by the Gospel use those natural enablements to live by primum non nocere?"

To answer the question, I’d have to know what would count as “uninfluenced by the Gospel”. That is, which societies would you allow me to use as societies “uninfluenced by the gospel”?


“Even under the influence of the gospel, it's a jungle out there. It seems to me our natural brains are used to get what we can for ourselves.”

What if the gospel is, in fact, the product of human brains? What if Jesus and the writers of the NT were just human beings using their human brains to try to set down a way of life that is more than just “tooth and claw” and the biggest and baddest gets all the goodies? Oh, I understand that they also appealed to a higher authority, but maybe that’s just a way of giving their ideas a little more oomph.

And obviously, the NT is not unique among human philosophical productions when it comes to theories and philosophies that emphasize cooperation over killing. Jesus is hardly the only philosopher who taught “do unto others and you would have them do unto you”.



“Nice theory, where does it work?”

Goodness, there are LOTS of places where it works. Just look around. We have endless rules in operation in countless cultures that are designed to reduce harm to others. All cultures have at least some rules designed to reduce harm to others. All cultures have a system of “good manners”, and the purpose of manners is to reduce the harm to others. Consider how many interactions you have with other humans every day. How many of those were cooperative and how many were “tooth and claw”? We might even dare to go so far as to say that we are naturally inclined to cooperate, if for no other reason than it is often in our own interest to cooperate.

We are social animals with brains, and using those brains, we have developed numerous systems to reduce harm to others. Call it natural, call it reciprocal altruism, call it a product of inborn empathy, call it Fred and Ethel. These systems exist, and for the most part, they work.

David said...

For record, I'd like to echo Zilch's thanks to SLW and Ana for keeping the discussion civil. I think that both of you do better than I do when it comes to civility. Merci.

Things seem to be getting a little redundant, and appear to be winding down. I've found the discussion quite interesting and educational, and I'm quite tickled to learn that I'm far more aberrant and unnatural than I ever realized! In all seriousness, I've always thought that I'd led a rather conventional sexual life, so it's very exciting to learn otherwise!

John said...

@David,

I know you may have already answered the point I made earlier, but, so I don't have to go back and read the huge slab of words above, would you mind explaining to me in a nutshell why you think I'm wrong.

(Not being sarcastic, just want to learn.)

SLW said...

David,
I have as many issues with your assessment of human culture and history as you have about naturalistic proscriptions on aberrant sex acts.

You are in the swamp. Where are these cultures that practice "first, do no harm?" They are in fact, oppressive, misogynist, violent (even if not deadly), oligarchic, etc, etc, etc. They are certainly not sexually liberal, by and large.

emphasize cooperation over killing
I do not know why you assume deference to the law of tooth and claw means killing by necessity. In fact, most demonstrations of dominance in the animal kingdom do not result in death, they merely restrict access to mating or food. Really, not a bad picture of human societies through the ages.

Back to the issue of the post. The naturalistic approach sketched out here has provided a relatively clear determination of aberrant vs. non-aberrant sex practices without invoking God. Regardless of variations in Brennon's, Ana's, or my interpretations of it. There is a clear principle that can be used to make judgments that aren't that far apart. You merely do not like the results of the system and so find fault. That's OK, it's not like I agree with the system derived either. But to deny it has the power to arrive at determinations with internal consistency and logic is to not see the forest for the trees.

zilch said...

I'll second David's opinion that we seem to be repeating ourselves here, and that it's been very interesting. I'm still curious, however, to hear how the Christians here would answer the question I posed above: is every sexual act, or actually any act at all, either "aberrant" or not? Sinful or not? If so, can you always tell which it is?

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch.

ps David- I agree, God is a way of putting more oomph behind moral law.

zilch said...

Oh, and John- you say:

One answer is that homosexuality is evolutionarily disadvantageous, hence considered aberrant.

Just like incest, or cannibalism.


Being celibate is even more "evolutionarily disadvantageous" than either incest or cannibalism, on the basis of differential reproductive success, and celibacy is not normally considered "aberrant" or "unnatural". And I don't see how cannibalism is "evolutionarily disadvantageous" at all, as long as you don't eat uncooked human brains and get kuru. It's rather uncivilized, though.

Ana said...

David,

I appreciate your civility too.

We left off on the issue of abstinence. I had said:

"Abstinence is passive, it does not disrupt the procreative process at all.

Contraception, on the otherhand, does, because it is interference. By definition, contraception alters the body physically or chemically to upset the body's procreative
process through the use of artificial devices /barriers/ hormones."

In response to me, you said:

"If I feel like having sex, and I deliberately avoid sex to short circuit that which would occur naturally (if you'll pardon the expression), then I'm making an
active decision. I'm actively changing my behavior so that I can de-couple sex from its "intended purpose". I'm consciously choosing to do sex in such a way as to avoid its productive outcome. Yes, this does "disrupt the procreative process", because I wanted to have sex, but I didn't...to avoid unwanted procreation." (emphasis added)

This may not have been intentional, but in the above, you described two separate scenarios (abstaining from sex and having sex), yet used them interchangeably, though they are different.


-In the first scenario, you described a situation in which you refrain from sex in spite of having a desire to have it. You argue that refraining from sex
violates the definition of "procreative" as I have previously articulated, and
is therefore "unnatural" -- again, per my previous uses of the term "unnatural".


Avoidance (or postponement) of pregnancy -- in and of itself-- is not what we have argued to be unnatural or a disruption of the procreative process.

Most of our lives are spent avoiding/delaying pregnancy (in the case of women) or impregnation (in the case of men). When you (I'm using the word "you" in a generic sense)are out for a jog in the morning, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, sleeping,
driving on the freeway, cooking, etc. you are avoiding procreation, whether consciously or not.

Specifically, though, you focused on conscious avoidance of procreation via concsious avoidance of sex. A realistic hypothetical of that would be, you are at a party, and a certain woman
you find attractive and even like, is offering herself to have sex, and, though tempted, you decline and try to NOT be alone with her. You would say, this is unnatural. However, remember that in the context of discussing sexual practices, we have described "unnatural" to mean adjusting or using the sexual powers in a manner that is
not unitive, and that doesn't conform to the way children are conceived.

By abstaining from sexual activity, you are abstaining from excercising your sexual powers.
(You can't improperly use your sexual powers, if you are not even using them in the first place.)
By abstaining from contraceptives, you are abstaining from adjusting your sexual powers.

The "sexual powers" refer to physical reproductive features in your body, not to the mind's attraction to sex.

- In the second scenario, you describe a situation in which you do have sex, "in such a way as to avoid its productive outcome". This scenario is the opposite of abstinence, and is one which my previous comments have covered.

The couple having sex must not upset (adjust) the generative process of the body, whether in preparation for the sex (e.g. a woman taking "the pill" upsets her body's generative process)
or during the act itself (e.g. withdrawal upsets the generative process, because the semen --which deposits inside the vagina -- is deliberately directed away from excecuting that end.)

Ana said...

David,

Regarding the Catholic Church, I would like to recommend you something: the Catechism of the Catholic Church (whether a hard copy or online)

The Catechism is an official (magisterial) compendium of the Church's teachings on faith and morals, intended for the laity. It's a way for you to get information about the Church, from the source itself.

When you cite the Catechism, you simply list the number that is next to the paragraph you are quoting, or quoting from.

For example, while we're on the topic of sexuality, if you wanted a concise summary on what the Church teaches about prostitution:

"Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Prostitution is a social scourge. It usually involves women, but also men, children, and adolescents (The latter two cases involve the added sin of scandal.). While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure." (2355)

I will address what you said about rape and masturbation, when I get a chance as I have to go for now.

David said...

SLW,

Well, I don't want to open another can of worms, but I'm going to throw some thoughts out there, and then I'm going to try to leave it at that.

“They are in fact, oppressive, misogynist, violent (even if not deadly), oligarchic, etc, etc, etc.”

I’m a little confused, because it’s not clear to me who “they” refers to in the above sentence.

Just to clarify, I did not mean to imply that any particular culture follows "first, do no harm" as the ONE and ONLY guiding principle in everything that is a part of the culture. It's fair to say that there are no cultures in which every single aspect of that culture could be described as "cooperative" or following a principle of "first, do no harm". It’s fair to say that there have been cultures where this was not a significant guiding principle. I read a lot of history, so I have no illusions about human cultures. None.

However, that does not change the fact that we really do often operate by the principle of reciprocal altruism. One might even, hesitantly, call reciprocal altruism “natural”. We really do have brains that are capable of creating cultures that promote cooperative interactions. Cooperation really can be something that benefits all of the participants. That is, I’m not saying that we cooperate because of we’re all so wonderful. I’m saying that we cooperate, because it’s often in our own interest to cooperate.

Many cultures have, in fact, developed and promoted the idea of "do unto others" (a variant of "first, do no harm") as an important part of the culture. Of course the idea isn’t going to be put into practice in a perfect and complete way, because we’re a flawed species. Of course there is still oppression and violence and misogyny, etc. What matters here is that people have often decided that “do unto others” is a good idea. People like the idea of “do unto others”, and they often try to follow this principle, even if they do so imperfectly. Again, consider how many interactions you have with other humans every day. How many of those were cooperative and how many involved conflict, violence and oppression? It’s almost as if “first, do no harm” was a natural response.

I think it’s always important to remember that humans are a naturally inventive species. We use our “natural” brains, and we invent life-saving medical technologies, space shuttles, birth control, and laws, manners and mores that promote "first, do no harm", all of which I would call “natural”. We invent societies that allow us to live as truly extraordinary densities; densities that would literally be impossible to sustain WITHOUT at least some practice of the principle of “first, do no harm”.

Think what an extraordinary thing a city is. Think of how many times a given individual interacts with other human beings on a daily basis. Think of the level of cooperation that is needed to sustain a city. Think of all of the interdependent interactions that are required to keep a city going. Whether we consciously realize it not, if we weren’t following “first, do no harm” at least most of the time, there would be no cities.

Cities exist. Therefore, we can conclude “the theory” works and is practiced on a wide scale.

David said...

John,

Since I didn’t respond to this yet, I’ll go ahead and post one more comment.

“One answer is that homosexuality is evolutionarily disadvantageous, hence considered aberrant.”

Well, it might be disadvantageous or it might not be. To give a definitive answer the question, we would have to observe the course of human evolution over hundreds of thousands of years, and I can’t think of any way to do this.

Keep in mind that evolution is about getting your alleles into later generations. This is how you win the game. There’s the obvious way to do this…have offspring yourself. There’s also the less obvious way to do this…take actions that promote the survival of the offspring of very close relatives (offspring of brothers, sisters, etc.).

In other words, a gay uncle or gay aunt could be quite successful at getting his or her alleles into the next generation IF his actions greatly increase the chances that his nieces and nephews would survive to reproduce. If we can get our alleles into the next generation without having offspring ourselves, is homosexuality really disadvantageous?


In a species in which individual live in small social groups of very closely relate individuals and in which the offspring are extraordinarily dependent for a very long time, is it really disadvantageous if an aunt or uncle is homosexual? It probably depends on the availability of resources, the odds of survival for any given offspring, etc.

Now, I freely admit that I’m speculating here, but in the absence of any hope of directly observing human behavior over the last 100,000 years or so, speculation is all I can offer.

kilo papa said...
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John said...

David,

"To give a definitive answer the question, we would have to observe the course of human evolution over hundreds of thousands of years, and I can’t think of any way to do this. "

-- Scientists have been doing this, actually.

You're mentioning the gay-uncle hypothesis. As far as I know, even Dawkins doesn't find that convincing as it seems completely ad hoc.

Be that as it may, you're answer seems to be so elastic as it can likewise be used to say bestiality can also be evolutionarily advantageous in some circumstances. Those bestial uncles could probably even be more helpful to the offspring of their close relatives since their animal partners, as opposed to human ones, would ostensibly require much less attention.

"Now, I freely admit that I’m speculating here, but in the absence of any hope of directly observing human behavior over the last 100,000 years or so, speculation is all I can offer."

--Then you really must agree that we have at least prima facie evidence for the hypothesis that homosexuality is evolutionarily maladaptive.

David said...
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David said...

"It seems completely ad hoc."

Why "ad hoc"? You really can pass on your alleles through your relatives. I'm not making this up as I go along.


"Be that as it may, you're answer seems to be so elastic as it can likewise be used to say bestiality can also be evolutionarily advantageous in some circumstances."

Well, maybe it is. Who knows?

You are saying, in effect, that homosexuality is always evolutionarily disadvantageous, hence aberrant. All I'm trying to say is "maybe yes, maybe no". Keep in mind that the "maladaptiveness" (i.e., fitness) of a given structure or behavior is partly a product of the environment that exists at that point in time. Homosexuality could be maladaptive most of the time, but adaptive under certain condtions. By the way, the same is clearly true for polygamy, too. In the end, we can't go back and observe all human culture for the last 100,000 years, so who know?.

As a final note, I would add that I don't really care is homosexuality is evolutionarily aberrant or evolutionarily maladaptive. It should be blindingly obvious that humans are not bound by what was evolutionarily advantageous in the past. We have brains, we can invent, we can create tolerant societies, we can decide to accept things, regardless of any possible evolutionary advantage or disadvantage.

You know,if you want to see something that really "natural", go visit a 19th century graveyard. Lots and lots of dead kids. No unnatural antibiotics or vaccines or disinfectants or antiseptic surgery to "interfere" with the "natural" course of events". Dead kids. Now, that's natural.

I'm not sure that I see a need to to find new ways and additional reasons to put pejorative labels on gays. I don’t see the need or the point. But if one has to call gays aberrant, then I’d like to be called aberrant and unnatural, too. Fair is fair, and I clearly fit the definitions for unnatural and aberrant.

John said...

@David

"You are saying, in effect, that homosexuality is always evolutionarily disadvantageous, hence aberrant. All I'm trying to say is "maybe yes, maybe no". Keep in mind that the "maladaptiveness" (i.e., fitness) of a given structure or behavior is partly a product of the environment that exists at that point in time. Homosexuality could be maladaptive most of the time, but adaptive under certain condtions."

-- David, but if, for instance, you agree that homosexuality is maladaptive most of the time, then we have an evolutionary account of why it's "natural" to feel an aversion towards it. Just like we feel an aversion towards things that are similarly evolutionarily maladaptive.

Given your naturalistic perspective, how can you then blame people for having this natural aversion for it? It would be somewhat akin to having an aversion for eating feces (not equating the two! Just giving an example closer to home). Surely, eating feces can, under extraordinary circumstances, be advantageous. But since it's by and large an activity that's maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective, we've evolved to feel a natural aversion towards it.

So, you really must know, from your naturalistic perspective, theists are only just expressing what they naturally feel about homosexuality. How can you blame them?

zilch said...

John, you say:

So, you really must know, from your naturalistic perspective, theists are only just expressing what they naturally feel about homosexuality. How can you blame them?

This was addressed to David, but I hope you will excuse me for answering too. I don't blame theists at all for expressing what they feel about homosexuality. That includes homosexual theists as well, of course. What I do blame theists for is when this expression comes in the form of discrimination, and especially when this expression includes trying to get discriminatory laws passed, or opposing laws that are against discrimination. Don't like homosexuals? Fine, don't be homosexual. But live and let live.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

John said...

@Zilch

What laws are you referring to? Are you talking about places like Iran?

zilch said...

John- yes, Iran is a good example of repressive laws. I hope the US doesn't go that way.

David said...
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David said...

"David, but if, for instance, you agree that homosexuality is maladaptive most of the time, then we have an evolutionary account of why it's "natural" to feel an aversion towards it.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "natural aversion". I'm straight, so I'm not attracted to men. Is this what you mean by natural aversion or are you talking about a "much stronger reaction?

The question of "natural aversion" is an interesting one. I understand your point, and yes, it's possible that there's a "natural aversion" because homosexuality is usually maladaptive. I certainly can't say that it's not possible. However, I would caution that among biologists, this sort of evolutionary psychology is considered a little hinky, in part, because we don't have much data and we can't do certain experiments without running into some very serious ethical problems.

Let me explain. To be a true natural aversion, this must be something that exists outside of and independent of cultural conditioning and learning. To show that there really is a natural aversion, you'd have to run some (very unethical) experiments in which you totally controlled the environment. In this environment, the individual must be raised so that the individual received no hint from his or her environment that homosexuality was something that should trigger aversion. We're NOT going to be running these types of experiments. (I'm not talking about cases where parents might choose to raise their kids to think that gay is ok. That's their choice.)


"Given your naturalistic perspective, how can you then blame people for having this natural aversion for it? It would be somewhat akin to having an aversion for eating feces."

I don't want get too gross here, but in fact, eating your own feces is not nearly as maladaptive as you might think. Coprophagy is not an uncommon activity among mammals. It gives the digestive tract a second shot at absorbing nutrients that would otherwise be wasted. Eating the feces of others is a good way to spread disease, but eating your own? Not necessarily a bad idea. But I digress.

Like Zilch, I don't "blame" people for having a "aversion". It's what you do about it that matters. With respect to sex, I really do fit the criteria given for unnatural and aberrant, but I would hope that this would not be grounds for someone to discriminate against me.

You know, one might argue that "aversion" or prejudice towards those who look different from us is "natural" and "adaptive", because in our evolutionary past, the folks who looked different from our kin or those in our tribal group were likely to be out to do us harm. "Different" could easily mean "dangerous". However, I think that I'm quite safe in assuming that no one here would find that reason enough to discriminate on the basis of skin color.

As an aside, I did finally think of an example of people who practice sex in a truly natural and non-aberrant way. The Duggars. The Duggars are natural and non-aberrant. All the rest of us (including the rhythm folks) are unnatural and aberrant to some degree. But the Duggars? Now, that's letting nature take its course.

zilch said...

David- it should be pointed out that the Duggars are enabled to bear and raise this many kids by their rather "unnatural" situation: if they were in, say, the Third World and not getting donations for being role models, most of those kids would long since have died- which is indeed what has usually happened throughout most of human history.

David said...

Zilch,

Yes, the child survival rate here is quite "unnatural".

bossmanham said...

on't like homosexuals? Fine, don't be homosexual. But live and let live.

YES. We're all for that! The thing is the homosexuals are pushing and straining and protesting and putting on indecent parades while doing blatant sexual acts in public to push their maladaptive behavior to gain new rights and extra protection under the law that no one else has.

So when you say live and let live, you really mean let me and my gay friends act as immoral as we want and give us special rights to do so and you shut your stupid Christian mouth so we don't feel bad about doing it. I know what the dilleo is, Mr Zero.

zilch said...

Okay, I guess that about wraps it up here. Thanks for all the fish, boss.

cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

kilo papa said...
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kilo papa said...
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zilch said...

Hey kilo- just what are you trying to accomplish here? You're not going to change anyone's mind by calling them a retard, and if you're only interested in insulting people who think differently than you do, you might want to think about what kind of world you want to live in.

cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

John said...

David,

Well there are a couple things I could say about that. But I think it's time to wrap this up since nobody will actually be breaking new ground here, it seems.

I did learn something from you in this discussion --that eating feces is fine under more circumstances than I ever would've imagined. Thanks for that. =)

Thanks for responding.

David said...

"I did learn something from you in this discussion --that eating feces is fine under more circumstances than I ever would've imagined."

Well, studying biology does teach a fellow some interesting things! =)

I agree with Zilch and John. Time to wrap it up. (Love the Hitchhiker's Guide reference.)

aXis1432 said...

So your telling me that you have gay friends who "turned away from" homosexuality? Tell me could you stop likeing girls if I (or anyone) asked you to?No, you couldn't. Why would you ask them to? They are lying to you in order to make you stop hating them and demining them.