Celibacy Is Unnatural

The Roman Catholic church’s stated reason for opposing homosexuality is that it violates a vaguely-defined construct they call “natural law”. This viewpoint is explained in essays like this one:

People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural… The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality — that it is wrong because it is unnatural.

Unfortunately, this article doesn’t explain how we tell which of our intuitions can constitute “natural laws” and which cannot. A large majority of people once held the view that interracial sex was “unnatural” – in fact, some people still do hold such views – so would the Catholic church also advance a natural law argument for anti-miscegenation laws? If not, why not? How do we tell which of our intuitions can serve as the basis for natural law and which are simply popular prejudices falsely being passed off as intrinsic parts of human nature?

But even beside the problem of subjectivity and clashing intuitions, we can level a charge of hypocrisy against those who make natural-law arguments. After all, what could be more “natural” for human beings than having sex? We’re designed for it, hard-wired for it, physically and mentally. Billions of years of evolution – which the Catholic church accepts – have stamped us with an extremely strong, if not all-consuming, innate desire to pass on our genes. Yet the Catholic church fights against this fundamental part of human behavior by demanding that its clergy should remain lifelong celibates, never having sex and never falling in love. What could be more abnormal, more “unnatural”, for human beings than that?

And the facts bear this out: in a large number of cases, the official rule of celibacy is repeatedly and flagrantly broken. Consider this article from this week’s New York Times, “A Mother, a Sick Son and His Father, the Priest“:

Ms. Bond separated from her husband, and for the next five years she and the priest, the Rev. Henry Willenborg, carried on an intimate relationship, according to interviews and court documents… In private they functioned like a married couple, sharing a bed, meals, movie nights and vacations with the children.

This Missouri woman was approached and seduced by a Catholic priest, a Franciscan friar named Henry Willenborg, which began a long-term romantic relationship. One of their sexual liaisons resulted in the conception of a child, a boy named Nathan. (The article says that Willenborg initially suggested she get an abortion.) After legal prodding, the church reluctantly agreed to pay some financial support to the family, but only on condition that she sign strict confidentiality agreements. By a stroke of tragic fortune, both she and her son are terminally ill, which is why she’s decided to come forward with her story. Willenborg’s superiors were aware of his relationship well before Nathan’s birth, but as you probably expected, he’s never been removed from the priesthood or punished in any way.

But what makes this story more than an anecdote is this jaw-dropping statistic:

A landmark study in 1990 by the scholar A. W. Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine, found that 20 percent of Catholic priests were involved in continuing sexual relationships with women, and an additional 8 percent to 10 percent had occasional heterosexual relationships.

Around 30 percent of Catholic priests engage in sexual relationships with women. This is a clear sign that the Catholic hierarchy’s rules run against the grain of human nature. Celibacy is simply not natural for us, and rules which demand it are bound to be broken. And when that does happen, the outcome is predictable: a sexuality that’s denied healthy outlets will find unhealthy ones. In this case, rather than admit their desires and resign the priesthood to seek happiness honestly, priests tend to use their position of authority to exert an almost irresistible coercion on members of their flock:

“Here I am this small-town girl, and at the time I didn’t feel that I was very attractive,” she said, “and yet he’s putting his vows on the side and he wants to be with me, in the most intimate, loving way. It was quite an honor.”

“It’s such a powerful thing because you think — and this is the illness of it, too — you are led to believe and you let yourself believe, that you are a chosen one. That you are so special,” she said, adding of the priest, “It’s not that they’re putting God aside, it’s that they’re bringing you up to their level.”

It’s the unmerited aura of supernatural wisdom, their claim to possess special status and power with God, that gives priests the ability to ensnare women so easily – and the irrational celibacy rule that gives them the incentive. If the Catholic church discarded both of those, they would have a (somewhat) more rational religion. If they dropped their absurd and prejudiced “natural law” arguments against homosexuality, divorce, contraception, and all other manners of consensual human sexual expression and freedom of association in our relationships, they might actually have one worth following.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com Cuttlefish

    Tale as old as time
    Crude as it may be
    Nothing was amiss
    Then he gave a kiss
    Unexpectedly
    Did not keep his vows
    Sad, to say the least
    Father was a cad
    Now Father is a dad—
    Booty and the Priest

    Happens all the time
    Rarely a surprise
    Cover what he did
    Too bad about the kid
    It’s time to tell some lies

    Tale as old as time
    Act as old as sin
    Tell her to abort
    As a last resort
    Call the lawyers in
    Certain as The Church
    Wants the claim released
    Tale as old as time
    Act as old as slime
    Booty and the Priest

    Tale as old as time
    Act as old as slime
    Booty and the Priest

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2009/10/booty-and-priest-tragedy.html

  • Grimalkin

    Just to be a jerk, I want to point out that there is NOTHING unnatural about celibacy. Let’s say that the figures you presented are underestimation and that in reality about 50% of priests are in sexual relationships, that still leaves 50% who are not. You also aren’t taking into account asexual individuals. While they certainly deviate from the “norm” (as do homosexuals, by the way), there is nothing unnatural about them.

    That being said, I do appreciate the point you are making.

    I think that one of the most interesting parts of this is WHY Catholic priests are required to remain celibate. It’s quite simply that the greedy greedy church wanted to get any land or money that the priests might have accumulated when they died rather than having it be inherited by the priest’s sons. So they forbade priests from marrying.

    Of course plenty of Catholic theologians rationalized the decision, claiming that touching a woman makes a man too sullied to handle consecrated wine and crackers for at least a day afterwards, and since you can’t stop a man from taking his marriage bed privileges, there’s no way to be sure that he isn’t tainting the holy crackers.

    Where’s that Christian morality people are always talking about?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Unfortunately, this article doesn’t explain how we tell which of our intuitions can constitute “natural laws” and which cannot.

    Why don’t you just apply the same evolutionary reasoning you would to support any other claim? “Natural laws” would then become those that facilitate propagation of species, and I’m sure the rest works itself out from there.

    But even beside the problem of subjectivity and clashing intuitions, we can level a charge of hypocrisy against those who make natural-law arguments. After all, what could be more “natural” for human beings than having sex? We’re designed for it, hard-wired for it, physically and mentally.

    I’d agree 100%, if you put your claim in proper scope: in certain cases, we can level a charge of hypocrisy against those who make natural-law arguments, while they themselves require celibacy of others. My opinion is that the Catholic opinion towards sex is unnatural, not to mention morbid. However, this doesn’t mean I automatically criticize any or all who practice celibacy; each case would be different. IOW, yes, sex is a natural thing, but conscious abstinence from sex is not inherently “unnatural.” Obviously, in nature, we eventually lose that sex drive with age. Is celibacy unnatural for the senior citizen? The post-menopausal women? That sort of thing.

    [humans have] an extremely strong, if not all-consuming, innate desire to pass on our genes.

    Correct, and homosexuality precludes just that.

    This Missouri woman was approached and seduced by a Catholic priest, a Franciscan friar named Henry Willenborg, which began a long-term romantic relationship. One of their sexual liaisons resulted in the conception of a child, a boy named Nathan. (The article says that Willenborg initially suggested she get an abortion.) After legal prodding, the church reluctantly agreed to pay some financial support to the family, but only on condition that she sign strict confidentiality agreements. By a stroke of tragic fortune, both she and her son are terminally ill, which is why she’s decided to come forward with her story. Willenborg’s superiors were aware of his relationship well before Nathan’s birth, but as you probably expected, he’s never been removed from the priesthood or punished in any way.

    I agree such is deplorable.

    This is a clear sign that the Catholic hierarchy’s rules run against the grain of human nature. Celibacy is simply not natural for us, and rules which demand it are bound to be broken.

    The aforementioned caveats still apply, but in general, I couldn’t agree more. I actually take it much further. To echo Wylie, “Popery is but the natural development of [the] original transgression. It is just the early idolatries ripened and perfected… Popery is the last, the most matured, the most subtle, the most skilfully contriven, and the most essentially diabolical form of idolatry which the world ever saw, or which, there is reason to believe, it ever will see. It is the ne plus ultra of man’s wickedness, and the chef d’oeuvre of Satan’s cunning and malignity.”

    Hence, fruit that falls from the tree of popery – like celibacy doctrines – is equally rotten.

  • http://amunium.dk Slater

    Grimalkin: Yes, asexuality is just as natural as homosexuality (which these people refuse to see as natural, so they’re still hypocritical just for that), but we aren’t talking about asexuals here – at least not nearly all of them. In most cases the celebacy is forced on these priests by their religion, and NOT something they choose for no other reason than wanting to not have sex. That means it is unnatural for them to refrain from it, regardless if some other people give it up voluntarily.

  • valhar2000

    Not to mention that “unnatural” is not, by any means, a synonym of “bad” or “undesirable”.

  • http://www.neosnowqueen.wordpress.com neosnowqueen

    The religious definition of natural is not the actual definition of natural. The religious appropriation of words so that they are completely different from the original definition is one of those things that makes arguing with them so difficult.

    The religious definition of natural is that which follows God’s law for the world, which is not necessarily what people do naturally. For instance, long hair on men, nakedness, engaging in homosexual behavior … these are all considered unnatural according to God’s laws, despite the fact that they are more natural (based on the actual definition) than God’s laws themselves.

    So to them, natural can mean unnatural if morally correct, not actually natural.

    It would make it so much easier to argue against if they used another word, like one that actually meant what they were saying.

  • Alex Weaver

    Is celibacy unnatural for the senior citizen? The post-menopausal women? That sort of thing.

    You seriously think old people don’t have sex?

  • Alex, FCD

    Billions of years of evolution – which the Catholic church accepts – have stamped us with an extremely strong, if not all-consuming, innate desire to pass on our genes.

    No it hasn’t. It’s stamped (most of) us with an extremely strong desire to have sex, which is emphatically not the same thing.

    Hence, fruit that falls from the tree of popery – like celibacy doctrines – is equally rotten.

    Even so, Mr. Cromwell, I am skeptical of your ‘English Commonwealth’ scheme.

  • Snoof

    I assumed this article was pointing out the hypocrisy of the Catholic church in deploring things like homosexuality and contraception as “unnatural” while simultaneously enforcing a very unnatural behaviour amongst its priests.

  • Caiphen

    I’m an atheist like most who visit this website, but I have a question. How far are we going to go with this? That is, how long will it be before we start calling monogomous relationships unnatural? Let’s look at a reasonably close relative of Humanity, the Gibbon. Do we start practicing that ape’s sexual behaviour before we call ours natural? Yes, there have been many errors within the RC church, but considering this is the age of fatal STDs, I believe celibacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Monogomous married relationships, which we owe a thankyou to christianity and other religions, isn’t a bad thing either.

    What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Firstly the whole purpose of the Church’s position on these matters it to protect the institution of marriage and family (I’m sure you have very different views on the family but let’s leave that debate for another day). Secondly, the Church was never against interracial relationships so it bears no relevance in the context. Thirdly, it would not matter if 90% of priests had romantic involvements with women as thankfully the Church does not construct her catechism according to relative tendencies, even if those tendencies and failings are exhibited by its own ministers as they are as prone to failings as anyone. Finally, the conclusion that celibacy is unnatural is pretty damn unfair to people who happen to end up alone in life without a partner. By the logic presented in this article it seems these single people are an unnatural, abnormal lot. Unless of course they can find themselves another body to penetrate, or I suppose they could just masturbate their way back to normality?..

  • Sarah Braasch

    People have sex. They have always had sex. As far into the future as I am able to peer — people will always have sex. Chris Rock made a joke recently about how even in places ravaged by disease and famine — people still find a way to make babies. Too many babies.

    The natural — unnatural dichotomy is a false one. I recorded a WI state rep’s opening prayer in the WI State Assembly Hall while working for FFRF as an intern. This rep in question made it clear that “natural” law is paramount, and that “natural” law is whatever the Bible and the Pope say is natural law. The Roman Catholic Church really means moral and immoral as dictated by doctrine and papal decree. There is nothing natural about man made dictates governing sexuality and morality.

    Natural isn’t necessarily a good thing. Look at the Church’s work in Africa, as well as many other Evangelical Christian missionaries and organizations. I hold them all responsible for the millions of AIDS and starvation deaths in Africa by advocating against the “sins” of condom use and other forms of contraception and abortion and other forms of sexual and reproductive healthcare, because they are not part of God’s natural law.

    Modern healthcare is unnatural. Diseases once long gone are making a come back, because Mullahs in the Maghreb, in particular, are warning people against evil, infidel Western vaccines. But, not surprisingly, no one is disparaging poor women’s use of modern healthcare and medicine, especially fertility treatments, in order for women to keep reproducing children, including multiples, whom they are unable to care for, until they conceive the all important male child. This is God’s “natural” law after all.

    In the US — the religious right vehemently opposes sex education — the purpose of which is to educate people about the risks of certain types of behaviors and the methods for protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and other illnesses, such as cervical and prostate cancer, etc., etc..

    Sorry for rambling.

    My point is — the whole natural / unnatural argument is bullshit. This is thinly veiled code for an arbitrary and capricious morality dictated by the Church.

    Educate people and maximize individual freedom.

    Anything someone decides to do is “natural”. Our DNA is evolving to produce a vast diaspora of vicissitude and vagary. This is to the greatest advantage of evolution.

  • Dan

    “Secondly, the Church was never against interracial relationships so it bears no relevance in the context”

    Perhaps not by official proclamation, but church surrogates certainly were anti-miscegnation in practice. The Catholic-led “League of Decency” which promulgated film standards in the US for years (and thus influenced the nature of US film art) was one such group. And the first North American anti-miscegnation laws were passed in the colony of Maryland in the mid 17th century, and if I’m not mistaken, Maryland was founded by Catholics who dominated its early politics.

  • Alex, FCD

    Firstly the whole purpose of the Church’s position on these matters it to protect the institution of marriage and family…

    Priests are prevented from having families in order to protect The Family? Mind: boggled.

    Finally, the conclusion that celibacy is unnatural is pretty damn unfair to people who happen to end up alone in life without a partner.

    The point is that the ‘natural’ label is a bad criterion for moral judgments.

  • PenguinFactory

    I’ve always hated the idea that certain things are wrong “just because”, which is essentially what the natural law idea boils down to. If you can’t give an actual, tangible reason why a certain behaviour should be banned or condemned, stop wasting my and everyone else’s time.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Rereading this post, I think I didn’t make my argument as clear as I should have, so let me add a few points.

    First off, let me be clear that I’m not advocating a natural-law argument for any particular kind of sexual behavior. I think the Catholic argument is a fallacy because it assumes that there’s only one, universal standard of what is “natural” for people. This fails to do justice to the broad spectrum of human behavior and the ample evidence that people’s desires are innate and not chosen. Insofar as the term is meaningful at all, I think it’s “natural” for heterosexuals to be attracted to people of the opposite sex, and “natural” for homosexuals to be attracted to people of the same sex (with many variations and gradations in between).

    However, the Catholic church does insist that there’s only one normal or acceptable model for human sexual behavior. In that case, it’s fair to employ their own argument against them and ask why they demand that their own priests deviate from this model. If it’s unnatural to use contraception when having sex, as they say, why isn’t it unnatural for someone never to have sex at all? After all, both of those activities thwart the “natural law” purpose of procreation.

    My own reason for opposing mandatory celibacy is a different one: because it leads to unhealthy and coercive relationships like the one described in the Times article. I don’t think any human desire is morally right just because it exists, but the sexual desire does exist, and any rational moral system should have a way of dealing with that. We can’t dam up those floodwaters forever and expect nothing to come of it. If Catholic clergy had legitimate outlets for sexual release, like most Protestant pastors, they would have less incentive to prey on their congregants – and there would be no question of who bore responsibility for any children that did result, unlike in this case, where both the priest and the church have repeatedly tried to evade their obligations for Nathan’s care.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    a vaguely-defined construct they call “natural law”

    “Natural Law” fails on one simple question: Is vs. ought?

    In that case, it’s fair to employ their own argument against them

    Understood. Reduction ad absurdum.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Firstly you say: “This fails to do justice to the broad spectrum of human behavior”. This argument does not hold any water because the broad spectrum of human behavior also includes rape, murder, adultery and sado-masochism – so the “broad spectrum of human behavior” proposal falls at the first hurdle.
    Secondly: yes, the Catholic Church does say there is one “acceptable model” for sexual relations, and that is between a husband and wife. This is not only a very difficult pronouncement for homosexual people who practice the homosexual act, but it is equally difficult pronouncement for unmarried heterosexual people – of which there are many! ( – possibly more in number homosexual people?)
    Thirdly, you ask “isn’t it unnatural for someone never to have sex at all?” You simply cannot invoke this argument without logically inferring that people living a single life without a sexual partner (either by choice or by circumstance) are unnatural and abnormal.
    You attempt “to employ their own argument against them [the Church] and ask why they demand that their own priests deviate from this model.” The church requires its priests to remain unmarried in order to dedicate their lives fully to their congregation and to the church. Each candidate for the priesthood has 7 or more years to prepare for his role and thus has ample time to assess what it means to remain unmarried (and hence celibate) before he goes forward for ordination.
    Finally you say “If Catholic clergy had legitimate outlets for sexual release, like most Protestant pastors, they would have less incentive to prey on their congregants.” While I lament your choice of words, I will still address the point. (i) As I said above, 7+ years to prepare for priesthood and asses the implications of being unmarried. (ii) More married people than ever are engaged in extra-marital sexual relations, so being in a marriage is no guarantee of fidelity. (iii) You use the phrase “sexual release”. I hope you realise that in the Christian tradition there is a big distinction between, marital relations and lust. It is completely wrong to infer that people who living single/celibate lives are walking around as ticking time bombs of pent-up sexual frustration constantly seeking a “release”. (iv) If the ordained priest actually wants to give up the celibate life and enter into marriage he can! Granted, he must leave the priesthood, but the fact remains he can leave the church and get married if it is the stronger of his desires.

  • Alex, FCD

    Mavricky:

    OK, we’ll do this one more time then. The point is that whether a behavior is ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ is irrelevant to the morality of that behavior. This is a point that has been made many, many times before. What Ebon is contributing to the discussion is the idea that the RCC is not only committing the naturalistic fallacy by arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral, but also apparently using a definition of ‘unnatural’ that applies to other behaviors that the church promotes (such as celibacy). The important point is that (remembering that ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ are not equivalent categories) celibacy is ‘unnatural’ in exactly the same way that homosexuality is.

    You said:

    You simply cannot invoke this argument without logically inferring that people living a single life without a sexual partner (either by choice or by circumstance) are unnatural and abnormal.

    I invite you to consider why you think that the existence of celibate people implies that celibacy is not unnatural, but that parallel reasoning does not apply to gay or bisexual people.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Alex, you say that the Church is “arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral”. This is incorrect. The Church is not arguing homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral. Yes, the Church makes reference to “natural law” in its teaching on the homosexual act, but to claim that the church says that homosexual act is wrong solely because it is “unnatural” is completely false. In fact, if we want get technical here, the church does not even say that homosexuality is in any way wrong! – (The moral teaching refers exclusively to the “homosexual act”.)
    Secondly you say “I invite you to consider why you think that the existence of celibate people implies that celibacy is not unnatural, but that parallel reasoning does not apply to gay or bisexual people.” Please be aware that I have not made any pronouncements on “natural or unnatural” conditions. I have merely attempted to highlight what I believe to be a flawed logical argument in the article, which infers that to be considered “natural”, it is a necessary requirement to be having sex!

  • Alex, FCD

    Alex, you say that the Church is “arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral”. This is incorrect.

    No it isn’t. That argument is made in the segment quoted from the catholic website at the top of this page. The RCC may have other justifications for their bigoted stance, but the ‘natural law’ one is the one we’re discussing here.

    Secondly you say “I invite you to consider why you think that the existence of celibate people implies that celibacy is not unnatural, but that parallel reasoning does not apply to gay or bisexual people.” Please be aware that I have not made any pronouncements on “natural or unnatural” conditions.

    Well that’s strange, because we’re talking about the application ‘natural law’ argument to homosexuality and celibacy. Do you or do you not think that the ‘natural law’ argument has merit? If not, we already agree. If so, do you think that homosexuality is a violation of natural law but celibacy is not? If so, why?

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Alex, (i) To contribute effectively to the debate it’ll be necessary to address my points in their entirety rather that cherry picking one sentence at a time. (ii) You ask: “do you think that homosexuality is a violation of natural law but celibacy is not? If so, why?” My answer is a definitive No! I do not believe that homosexuality is a violation of natural law. (As I said in the previous comment, the church does not say that homosexuality is in any way wrong. The moral teaching refers exclusively to the “homosexual act”.)

  • Alex Weaver

    Alex, (i) To contribute effectively to the debate it’ll be necessary to address my points in their entirety rather that cherry picking one sentence at a time.

    Ahem…

  • Alex, FCD

    (i) To contribute effectively to the debate it’ll be necessary to address my points in their entirety rather that cherry picking one sentence at a time.

    I apologize if you think I’m not giving your reasoning its fair shake. My intention wasn’t to ignore the rest of your post but to choose the bits of your writing that I felt best summarized the important points so as to save space. If there’s anything you think I’ve overlooked, by all means re-raise the point.

    I do not believe that homosexuality is a violation of natural law. (As I said in the previous comment, the church does not say that homosexuality is in any way wrong. The moral teaching refers exclusively to the “homosexual act”.)

    If you insist, then: do you think that the “homosexual act” (I think there’s more than one, actually) is a violation of the “natural law”? My previous questions still apply.

  • Wednesday

    Mavricky – What is “the homosexual act”? If you mean “gay sex”, you should say so, because there’s certainly more than one way for a gay couple to have sex, and pretty much all of them can be (and are) done by straight couples.

  • Alex Weaver

    Mavricky – What is “the homosexual act”? If you mean “gay sex”, you should say so, because there’s certainly more than one way for a gay couple to have sex, and pretty much all of them can be (and are) done by straight couples.

    And Bison, Polecats, and Giraffes if what he means by “the homosexual act” is “teh buttseks” (as it probably is, the wingnuts seeming to be uniquely obsessed with this particular “act”).

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Alex, I think that seeking to know my personal thoughts on the homosexual act are straying off topic in some ways. But since you have asked the question, I won’t be elusive and so I’ll try to give you an answer. Firstly, yes, the Church considers the homosexual act to be contrary to “natural law”, but we must be clear that we are now talking of the natural law as it is represented in theology, as that which states the precepts which govern moral life. So in this context, yes, I consider the homosexual act to be contrary to theological natural law. (But be reminded that this is NOT the sole reason for the homosexual act being considered wrong. The Church also considers (heterosexual) masturbation, fornication, and pornography gravely disordered and wrong. So when it comes to sexual acts, many of us are in the same boat here.) To finish my answer to your question: No, I do not consider celibacy to be against the precepts of natural law. Discussion of theological terms such as natural law serves further to highlight the flawed logic and philosophies on which the original article is based.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Alex,
    So now you call me a wingnut?.. I have to say it’s a disappointing end to what was up to now an interesting discussion.

  • Richard

    Here is a poll asking whether the Catholic Church is a force of good in the world.

    The Conservo-Catholic blogs are getting their people to vote. I suppose the other side should be allowed to vote too.

  • Richard
  • Alex, FCD

    Firstly, yes, the Church considers the homosexual act to be contrary to “natural law”, but we must be clear that we are now talking of the natural law as it is represented in theology, as that which states the precepts which govern moral life.

    The way you are using natural law here is circular. To paraphrase, you say that homosexuality* is immoral because it runs contrary to natural law, but ‘natural law’ isn’t defined further than ‘that which states the precepts which govern moral life’. So, in other words, homosexuality is immoral because it’s immoral.

    So now you call me a wingnut?.. I have to say it’s a disappointing end to what was up to now an interesting discussion.

    Actually, Alex Weaver called you a wingnut. I’m a different person. Can’t say I disagree, though.

    *I really can’t bring myself to type “homosexual conduct”. What I mean by “homosexuality” here is having sex with people whose genitals match your own.

  • Alex Weaver

    Uh, you realize there’s two of us here, right?

    (But be reminded that this is NOT the sole reason for the homosexual act being considered wrong. The Church also considers (heterosexual) masturbation, fornication, and pornography gravely disordered and wrong.

    For what reasons?

  • Alex, FCD

    Uh, you realize there’s two of us here, right?

    How two people wound up with the same given name, I can’t imagine.

  • Alex Weaver

    PS: way to

    address my points in their entirety rather that cherry picking one sentence at a time

  • XPK

    @Mavriky

    You said: “The Church also considers (heterosexual) masturbation, fornication, and pornography gravely disordered and wrong.”

    So wait, if you decide on a life of celibacy you cannot even masturbate? And what the (insert appropriate expletive here) is “(heterosexual) masturbation” exactly?

    “Gravely disordered and wrong”? There is nothing “gravely disordered and wrong” about any of the things you listed, assuming all parties are consenting legal individuals. Have you ever considered the “flawed logic and philosophies on which” your particular brand of Christianity is based?

  • Sarah Braasch

    I actually think this conversation has devolved to a state that highlights the genius of Ebon’s original post. neosnowqueen hit it on the head. We need to stop letting the religious usurp language. Let’s take it back.

    Why religion always feels the need to employ trickery and false pretenses illustrates just how bankrupt their ideologies are.

    Did anyone see that those crazies from the way of the master wrote a pro creation 50 page forward to the origin of the species and they are planning to distribute 50,000 copies on college campuses across the nation next month on the anniversary of the original publication? There is no indication on the cover that they have added the 50 pages of bogus propaganda. It looks like a normal copy of the original text.

    Is this supposed to be a joke?

    I really want to get my hands on a copy.

    Ebon, that would be great to go through and discredit.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Hi cl

    [humans have] an extremely strong, if not all-consuming, innate desire to pass on our genes.

    Correct, and homosexuality precludes just that.

    Yes but you know as well as anyone here that evolution isn’t as straightforward as that.
    Which is why I think it is possible to use the “natural” argument to defend the kind of mutual consenting sexual behaviours that the church condemns.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Alex Weaver,

    You seriously think old people don’t have sex?

    Your ability to twist never ceases to amaze. I said no such thing.

    Caiphen,

    Salient points, and good questions.

    Sarah Braasch,

    We need to stop letting the religious usurp language. Let’s take it back.

    Ha! You just usurped “natural” to mean “anything someone decides to do” in your own comment (#12). By your definition, then – rape, murder, strip malls, the creation of heavy elements, baking millions of people we don’t like in ovens, and the wholesale destruction of nature itself – becomes natural. How is that not a glaring inconsistency in your position?

    neosnowqueen,

    The religious definition of natural is not the actual definition of natural. The religious appropriation of words so that they are completely different from the original definition is one of those things that makes arguing with them so difficult.

    I’m curious to see what you think when atheists re-appropriate words so that they are completely different from the original definition, for example Sarah Braasch’s re-defining of “natural” in comment #12).

    Alex, FCD,

    What Ebon is contributing to the discussion is the idea that the RCC is not only committing the naturalistic fallacy by arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral, but also apparently using a definition of ‘unnatural’ that applies to other behaviors that the church promotes (such as celibacy).

    I agree.

  • Danikajaye

    I was once told by a Christian pamphlet distributor that homosexuality is wrong but God does not hate the homosexual but the “homosexual act” itself (hate the sin, not the sinner blah blah blah). The thing I think this implies is that homosexuality is not “a choice” but the way people are born. If the person and the act can be separated in such a way and yet the person is still considered homosexual this implies that there is much more to being homsexual that is independent of sex acts themselves. It seems this Christian recognised that even if a gay person does not act upon their desires this does not make them any less gay. That means that sexuality is not a choice but innate.

    If God made everything and he hates “the homosexual” act then why did he make gay people? That’s a bit sick in the head isn’t it? On the other hand if being gay is a choice does that mean if you have homsexual thoughts or desires but you never act on them then does that mean you aren’t gay because you never made the “lifestyle choice”? Or does just having the thoughts make you gay? And if it does I don’t think that can really be considered a choice.

    So apparently God hates “the homosexual act” (despite creating homosexuals) because it violates his law of man+woman but at the same time he expects priests to deny their “natural” urges and never touch a woman…. What?

    (Just in case I haven’t made myself clear I think natural-law is a load of shit. Next time I see a Christian try to board a plane I’m going to tell them they aren’t allowed to fly because they don’t have wings.)

    And another thing- why is masturabtion wrong? It’s mine and I can touch it if I want to thank you very much. Why does God care?

  • Sarah Braasch

    cl,

    You are still conflating the words natural and moral. They are not one and the same.

    Human beings are natural. Our thought processes are natural. They are simply the result of our biological functions.

    But, I’m out. I feel like this conversation has run its course.

    Debate away.

  • Paul S.

    Ebon said:

    We can’t dam up those floodwaters forever and expect nothing to come of it.

    Touche…sorry, couldn’t resist :))

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    And another thing- why is masturabtion wrong?

    Nothing wrong with masturabtion at all, you can wakn and spakn the mokney all you want. Masturbation on the other hand makes you go blind :)

  • Polly

    Masturbation on the other hand makes you go blind :)

    Wait, Which hand is the “other”!?!

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’m afraid to ask why Steve’s typing went south, too.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    I read the first half-dozen comments or so, and I hope I didn’t miss the bus here. There’s a lot of talk about “natural” and “unnatural,” I see Sarah pointed out the conflation of “natural” with “moral” or “good.” I have a few thoughts:

    “Natural” means precisely, “occurs in nature.”
    “Unnatural” means precisely, “does not occur in nature.”
    Rape occurs in nature, therefore rape fits the definition of natural.
    Celibacy – the lack of sexual partners – also occurs in nature, though not always as a matter of choice.
    Mating for life, serial monogamy, and polyamorous behaviors all occur in nature, depending on where you look. So do homosexual acts, and I think I read at one point that some slime molds have thirteen genders (can’t really look that one up from work, though). All of that stuff is therefore natural.
    Pepsi does not occur in nature. It is unnatural. In fact, it’s less natural than homosexuality.
    Medical drugs such as amoxicillin, which are meted out in precise dosages for specific types of ailments, do not occur as such in nature and are therefore unnatural.

    So what does any of this have to do with morality? Precisely nothing. I didn’t get “unnatural is bad, The End” out of Ebon’s post, I saw only “if unnatural is bad, then celibacy is just as bad as homosexuality; therefore, the church is full of the dumb.” And then I also saw, “naturalistic arguments are poppycock,” but I had to do a bit of paraphrasing to wind up with that.

    @ Cuttlefish: That bit of poetry up in comment #1 was beautiful. I love Disney parodies!

  • Alex Weaver

    Mavricky? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?

    That’s what I thought.

  • Entomologista

    I puke a little every time I hear “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

    And what the (insert appropriate expletive here) is “(heterosexual) masturbation” exactly?

    If you’re a chimera and your reproductive organs actually belong to the opposite sex twin you engulfed in the womb, that’s heterosexual masturbation. It may also count as incest.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    D,

    I see Sarah pointed out the conflation of “natural” with “moral” or “good.”

    For some reason, Sarah attempted to pin that conflation on me, when in fact I’ve not offered a definition or use for neither natural nor moral that would sustain her charges of conflation. It may be possible that she disliked me pointing out what you basically echoed here: that natural means “occurs in nature,” not “anything anybody does” – which is all the more ironic after she accused believers of “usurping” language. Where I was wrong was that she actually does this in comment #36, not comment #12. My bad.

    Hi Steve Bowen! I missed your comment the first time ’round. Come on by my place sometime, if you’re not already lurking. In response to your response, all I was saying is that if somebody wanted to attempt to justify their definition of homosexuality as unnatural via appeal to the primary function of natural selection, they could attempt that case. That doesn’t mean their case can’t be challenged, or that I’m endorsing it.

  • Libby

    “Heterosexual Masturbation”?

    Explain that to me.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Mavricky “…theological natural law.”
    Ah…supernatural natural law.

    Sarah Braasch “Did anyone see that those crazies from the way of the master wrote a pro creation 50 page forward to the origin of the species and they are planning to distribute 50,000 copies on college campuses across the nation next month on the anniversary of the original publication?”
    Yes. I once pondered whether Comfort is a scam artist or a true believer. I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.

    “Ebon, that would be great to go through and discredit.”
    There have, and will continue to be, many great analyses of Ray’s work in the comments section of his own website.

  • Keith

    ‘Cervus Lacessitus Leo’
    This was a phrase used by The Ancient Romans, translated from Latin as “The Stag at Bay Becomes a Lion”. In other words, if you have dignity and honor (like a stag), you’ll only stand for so much crap before you become a powerful force (like a lion).
    Considering the above, Google – Is Celibacy Coercion? Sensual Satisfaction.
    Keith