In doing some research for the chapter I’m writing for John Loftus’ forthcoming anthology about the negative influence of the Christian right in America, I came across this essay by Bill Maguire, who holds a Masters in Theological Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, in the Catholic World Report. This part jumped out at me:
Yet, if we accept the notion that sexual activity which is not open to procreation can be an authentic expression of conjugal love and that openness to procreation does not belong to the very essence and definition of marriage, what is the possible rational basis for not extending marriage to same-sex couples? There is none, because marriage has been reduced simply to a loving, committed sexual relationship.
Some might object: if openness to procreation belongs to the very essence and definition of marriage, we would have to exclude not only same-sex partners from marriage, but infertile heterosexual couples as well. This objection is not valid and does not hold weight. The sexual activity of an infertile heterosexual couple is intrinsically open to procreation—even though their sexual union cannot result in procreation. The sexual act of an infertile couple is the kind of act that is open to procreation; the fact that it cannot lead to procreation is accidental to the act itself. Under normal circumstances—i.e., functioning fertility—their act could lead to procreation. On the other hand, the sexual act of a same-sex couple is the kind of act that is never open to procreation; the non-openness to procreation belongs to the very substance and essence of that act.
Thus, one can rationally hold that openness to life is intrinsic to conjugal love without excluding infertile couples from marriage. Infertile heterosexual couples engage in the kind of act that leads to procreation; homosexual couples do not.
But if one were to follow this logic consistently, would it not also rule out oral sex, even if it was only engaged in by a married couple? After all, oral sex is not the kind of act that is open to procreation. Neither is masturbation, of course, or anal sex. So are Catholics taught that even married couples cannot engage in such forms of sex because those acts are never open to procreation? Not having ever been Catholic, I honestly don’t know the answer.
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