Is Bestiality a Secular Sex Reductio ad Absurdum?

Is Bestiality a Secular Sex Reductio ad Absurdum? February 1, 2020

This “dialogue” came about in the combox underneath my post, How Legal Same-Sex Unions Came About“Giauz Ragnarock” is, I believe, an atheist. He seems to write mostly about homosexuality online (looking at his Disqus comments). His words will be in blue. Some of the comments I make at the beginning, below, are in reply to other people.

Giauz seemed literally incapable of grasping the nature of my arguments. Arguments from analogy and reductio ad absurdum arguments are often grossly misunderstood (I find, more often than not). He is not alone in this respect, for sure. About all he could come up with was the usual boorish schtick about traditional Christian views on sexuality necessarily (he casually assumes this) being profoundly bigoted: on the level of the KKK, etc. To oppose homosexual sexuality is to be a prejudiced, hateful, bad person. Period. End of discussion. I submit that this prejudice (how ironic, huh?) is why the discussion went nowhere. He cannot comprehend a viewpoint other than his own, except to put it into a box as pure bigotry. That’s always the death of rational dialogue.

Many may misunderstand (like my opponent apparently did) exactly what I am driving at, below, in my socratic method. Let me explain it very simply: if one rejects traditional Christian reasoning regarding permissible and “normal” sexuality, and the natural law arguments that go alongside that, it seems that sex with animals, among other practices still generally disapproved of in our secular society, even today are then morally and logically indistinguishable from same-sex human sexual relations.

The bracketed six paragraphs were added now, after the original debate.

* * * * *

I noted how the revolution began in 30-year intervals: espousal of birth control by the Anglicans in 1930 and the introduction of the Pill c. 1960. Then it took 55 more years to completely institutionalize the notion of an utterly non-procreative marriage (bolstered by the “right” to murder children that happened to come along and weren’t wanted).

There are always Catholics who dissent on one point or another, yet like aspects of Catholicism enough to stay. So it is perfectly to be expected that a Catholic like Andrew Sullivan would try to blend marriage with homosexual sex. This neither surprises nor shocks me.

But I think the push for so-called “gay marriage” goes far deeper than that. It’s obviously a way to legitimize homosexual relationships in the eyes of society, since for many, human law is tantamount to how Christians view God’s law. What’s legal is right. That is the mentality today. So, to legitimize homosexual unions, obviously, they had to have equal legal rights with true marriage.

That being accomplished, now the goal will be to shut down and shut up any Christian who dares to continue to call sodomy or lesbian sex a sin. Anyone who believes what Christianity has always taught will be classified as a hater and a bigot. Basically, Christianity will be put in a box as a “religion of hate.”

That’s quite a feat, and it shows how far our society has forsaken Christianity. Christians are now the bad guys.

There are no “bad guys”. You believe that sexual acts when same-sex couples do them is a sin, but other Christians don’t. It’s an abolition and slavery thing. Both sides think of themselves as correct. I’ll go with the side that is not tarring itself with the negative assumptions about people that started this mess ie. slaves were not fit to live free lives, so god appointed his followers to care for them and reap his blessings from the ownership of people. They could have just not enslaved them. They could have just not assumed that getting married would screw up their lives and helped that destruction to come about).

* * * * *

When Christians talk about marriage they cannot not include what revelation (the Bible) says about it. We also have arguments from natural law (I do a variant of those in which I argue that violation of natural law brings about dire health consequences).

Marriage is a metaphysical reality in Christian thought. “The two become one.” And that is man and woman, not the same gender for both.

I would say that you appeal to natural law if you don’t want to mention the Bible. Certain parts of the body are obviously designed for certain things, not not designed for something else. When these “rules” aren’t followed, there are health consequences that can be verified by medical data.

The anti-lgbt+ people arguments seem to boil down to driving while black arguments. The supposed sex acts of homosexuality are the same ones everyone does but because they are each one sex (“black”), an immutable characteristic, all those things we do to be intimate with our loves are now termed a “homosexual lifestyle”. They’re having sex like old people and the infertile with no chance of producing babies? Well, those two groups are not intrinsically disordered because they are through no choice of their own of different sex and unable to bare children. On Gene Veith’s blog he had a study that supported a hypothesis that transgender females gained erotic stimulation from their female features, such as when wearing dresses and lingerie, implying this was an illegitimate causal factor for transitioning. Several cisgender women then pointed out in the comments that the study’s results also described many non-transgender women like themselves. All of the anti-LGBT+ people arguments are also anti-human arguments.

* * * * *

The claim [in my aforementioned post] was not that a “majority” of all children of inadequate fathers would be influenced to become homosexual, but rather, a statistically significant portion, suggesting some causation.

Obviously, if one denies any environmental relevance, and holds to a genetics-only view, then all such analyses will be rejected out of hand, based on the inveterately hostile presupposition (which itself is questionable).

Presence of a lousy father is disproportionate among homosexuals. That is how one sees a possible causal connection. You have to know what is being claimed in order to refute it.

I don’t recall arguing that homosexuals are terrible people and openly detrimental to society, simply by being homosexual. Obviously, Christians believe that the sexual acts are sinful, but we believe that lots of heterosexual sexual acts are sinful, too. It’s simply the nature of our moral theology.

As I said, no one is allowed to even talk about environmental factors anymore, and so I got the fifth degree for doing so.

[The original post] wasn’t a treatise of the possibility of disrupted father relationship as a cause of homosexuality. It was about why the new law has come about at this time. It’s not even a treatise about homosexuality per se, but about law and social and cultural conditions and trends: essentially a piece of sociology (my major in college), with a strong “history of ideas” element.

I wrote one sentence about the “father theory” (23 words). But because it is a big debate point it was seized upon. . .

I agree that cause is always a complex issue, especially when dealing with human beings. I’m an advocate of “multiple causality” in human beings. I have thought that ever since college, which is now 33-38 years. I often fight against folks, on a variety of issues, who think there is one lone cause of any complex phenomenon.

The biblical point was that whatever the Bible considers sinful, it also presupposes at the same time as able to be resisted; otherwise the prohibition would be nonsensical. The very notion of sin is based on a premise that one chooses the sin (violation of God’s law) and that one can also repent (by God’s grace in Christian thinking) and cease the sin.

I don’t think homosexual orientation is a sin. This is what the Catholic Church teaches, and I agree. Whether it (over against acts) is a choice or not runs into the complexities you bring up. I don’t know, myself. I tend to think in this instance that it involves choices that arrived (whatever the cause) so early in life, and were so strong, that I can see how one might easily regard them as involuntary and/or intrinsic.

I still say they could have been brought about by environment, to a small or large extent.

We know environment is or can be at least one cause, as a result of things like twins and prison behavior (as I noted). One article I read noted that homosexuality has become much more prevalent in England on a generational basis. The rapid (exponential?) growth cannot reasonably be accounted for only by genetic causation. There are also clearly cultural factors in play, because genes alone would not have produced such a rapid increase of incidence.

Who’s to say that as homosexual sex becomes more societally accepted, that there could not be a great number of people, ostensibly heterosexual, who experiment with alternate sexualities, find that they like it, and then conclude that they have “always” been that way. They can also claim that they have repressed it all along, etc. There are all sorts of possibilities. Self-report is not itself a final or unable-to-be-questioned determination.

In the biblical worldview, God could hardly punish someone for doing something that he could not have possibly avoided or refrained from doing. What sense does that make? A prohibition is based on a premise that its contrary is possible and that it is able to be resisted.

A penalty for non-compliance presupposes a rebelliousness against the command, which in turn presupposes free will and the ability to not do the wrong thing, and to do the right thing. Human laws, of course, work the same way.

We don’t penalize if someone was incapable of complying with a law (hence, the temporary insanity legal defense or initial determination whether someone is “competent” enough to stand trial).

If we say to a dog, for example, “if you don’t recite the Gettysburg Address, you will be punished!” does that make any sense? It doesn’t because everyone knows this is not possible for a dog, which can’t even say one word.

Likewise, the Bible states that sodomy is prohibited and is a serious sin. Why would it say such a thing if Jewish / Christian belief held that human beings were utterly incapable of refraining from certain sexual acts, including this one? It would be like saying, “don’t drink water” or “don’t urinate.”

The Bible doesn’t teach that. It teaches that we can resist sin, especially with the aid of God’s grace and power. “I can do all things because God strengthens me.” “With God all things are possible,” etc.

The radical homosexual agenda has sought to argue that homosexual drive is not able to be overcome; that it is impossible (indeed, even naive and nonsensical) to ask anyone to do so.

Yeah; we’re also told that it is impossible to abstain from heterosexual sex before marriage. They say that, yet I did it (in this sex-crazed culture), my wife did it, my son who has been engaged for three years and dating one girl for five has done it (so has his girlfriend). It’s entirely possible (though still, assuredly quite difficult, as I can fully attest) once one understands the rationale for it and allows God’s grace to enable one to do so.

So now we’re told the same thing about homosexual urges. I don’t believe it. I think that things become more difficult to cease doing if we give in to them. That’s clear. A momentary lapse becomes a tendency, becomes a habit and then a vice and then a character defect, the longer it continues. But the crucial step in such a progression is having begun on the path in the first place.

Something like drinking or nicotine addiction works on the same principle. Every alcoholic decided initially to start drinking, before he or she was one. Same with cigarettes. Then all of a sudden it is an addiction and seen as virtually an involuntary behavior (and/or, a “disease”) that one can’t possibly stop (and so is not responsible for).

Yet people do. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) works. Now there are various aids to help folks stop smoking, too. I see the commercials for these things every night, watching my political shows. I was a junk food junkie as a teenager and then started eating health food (for the most part), these past 32 years.

People can learn to not give into homosexual desires, too. I don’t buy it that they cannot. I’m fully willing to concede that orientation cannot be changed, or if so at all, only with great difficulty and perseverance.

But as I have said, that is not considered a sin in Catholicism, in the same way that a heterosexual desire is not sinful; only lustful desire is, because it takes things a step further.

I would ask why people would need punished for having sex with each other, all having given informed consent?

Why is it wrong for a man to have consensual sex with his 18-year-old daughter?

I imagine we could poke holes in all the current legal justifications for why that could be wrong save the power imbalance of the relationship. Instead of father and daughter it could be something else like teacher and student or brother and sister. It is reasonable to think that the existing relationship could be used to create harm (sexual assault or grooming), so we try to mitigate such relationships. There is currently no reliable way to prevent the possible harm that could result from the ever present power imbalance.

Is it wrong to have sex with a cow or a dog? Is that a power imbalance, too?

Are cows or dogs making it known that they can give informed consent to any decision?

Maybe they make affirmative sounds. I don’t know! But the example was chosen because it ostensibly goes beyond “consent” issues.

I wanna know if you think there is nothing wrong with it. But if it is wrong, why?

This is a form of the sort of natural law argument that Christianity uses against sodomy.

This is one more example of why “natural law” remains theology dishonestly passed off as fact. How does this go beyond consent issues? You state this as if it were evident from your animal abuse joke of making “affirmative sounds” (informed consent protections for minors might as well go out the window as well if this is how far down the discussion goes to disparage consenting same-sex adults/teen peers). If you believe my tone harsh, know that I take this discussion seriously. Abuse cannot be handwaved to make anti-people arguments for a god that does not in any observable way weigh in on this or any topic.

Is sex with animals perfectly okay with you or not? If not, why not?

It is not okay with me. I made my basis in informed consent quite clear.

Why not? Certainly many animals would gladly give consent to it. Why is it wrong?

Roofied people of all ages will “gladly give consent” to ANYTHING. Why should we consider such “consent” informed for animals but not drugged people? Could it be that both are in highly malleable states of decision making? How will your “Natural Law” relate to marriage at all?

If you say that a man can have sex with a man, I say that by the same logic, a man or woman can have sex with an animal, and that natural law and anatomy (and our reproductive systems) teaches us that sex is properly between a man and a woman.

You’ve provided me no good reason to believe (granting your worldview for the sake of argument) that sex with an animal is wrong.

You declare that a man can rape an animal just because you don’t like that there are LGBT+ people. Each one in having sex is giving informed consent. There is no [“]a man can have sex with an animal[“] statement to draw from this unless you also imply that a man can have sex with a woman means informed consent is completely optional, and the man just can take sex whenever he likes.

I said nothing about rape. I wrote, “Certainly many animals would gladly give consent.”

So the argument and theoretical situation presupposes the possibility of an animal consenting to sex with a person. If your only objection in your atheist worldview is to forced sex, that scenario wouldn’t fit into that, and so seems to be a live possibility in your worldview. If not, why? There are already people out there marrying their dogs and cats. I called it years ago. I could see it comin’.

[Many examples of human-animal marriage are given in the Wikipedia article on same. Many of these may involve bestiality. Who knows? It stated: “In June 2010, 18-year-old Indonesian man, Ngurah Alit, was forced to marry his cow after he was found having sex with it.” Also: “In February 2006 a Sudanese man named Charles Tombe caught having sex with a neighbour’s goat which was subsequently nicknamed Rose, was ordered by the council of elders to pay the neighbour a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($75) and marry the animal.” And again: “In May 1998 the The Jerry Springer Show had an episode titled “I Married a Horse!”. The show was ultimately not aired by many stations on the planned date, apparently due to concerns about the acceptability of broadcasting an episode in which a man admitted to a long term emotional and sexual relationship of this kind. The man and his horse later participated in a British documentary on the subject.”

See also the Wikipedia article, “Zoophilia”: complete with many graphic works of art. In another article, “Zoophilia and the Law,” we are informed that bestiality (“zoosexual activity”) is actually legal in the nations of Brazil, Cambodia, Finland, Mexico, Romania, Thailand, and in some states in the US. The article “History of Zoophilia” provides us with more fascinating facts. It notes that “the internet has allowed the formation of a zoophile community that has begun to lobby for zoophilia or zoosexuality to be considered an alternative sexuality and for the legalisation of bestiality.” Also: “In 1810, the French Penal Code of 1810 was enacted as part of Napoleonic Code of the First French Empire. After that time the subject of bestiality was not included in civil code of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In 19th-century France, bestiality became an organized practice, and at the time of Napoleon III, bestiality was said to have been one of the allied activities of the Society for the Advancement of Sodomy, which met regularly in the allée des Veuves.”

And:  “In 1949, East Germany was created and the country never considered bestiality an offense during the country’s existence. Zoophilia was exempt from punishment in over 80% of European countries in 1950s. During the 20th century, zoophilia was legalized in the Russian Empire in 1903 in Denmark (including Greenland and Faroes) on January 1, 1933, in Iceland on August 12, 1940, in Sweden in 1944, in Hungarian People’s Republic in 1961, in West Germany in 1969, in Austria in 1971,in Finland on January 15, 1971 and Norway on April 21, 1972. In 2003, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 lowered the criminal penalty of bestiality in the United Kingdom from life in prison to two years in prison.”

Again: “When Germany passed a law banning zoophilia in 2013, the zoophile community protested and filed a suit against the government saying the law violated their rights. A few months later, ZETA, a German zoophile-rights group, put together a peaceful protest/march that would make its way through the street of Berlin. The group used the march to highlight the persecution that zoophiles face every day.”

The Wikipedia article, “Zoophilia and the law in the United States” states: “Laws against zoophilia and sodomy in the United States are largely a matter of state rather than federal jurisdiction, except for laws governing the District of Columbia and the U.S. Armed Forces. There is no federal law which explicitly prohibits sex between humans and animals.” It provides a map of the country, showing the various legality in the states. Bestiality is a felony in 21 states,  misdemeanor in 18, and of undetermined legality in the remaining 11 states. Zoophilic pornography is legal in almost all states.

We see, then, that my “reductio ad absurdum” is far from being only that. Permissible bestiality is quite a reality in many places now, and historically as well.]

You’re all over the ballpark because I decided to go on the offensive instead of being on the defensive, trying to answer your 25 questions posted simultaneously all over my blog. You don’t like it, I guess, so you try to evade my direct questioning. I’m playing Socrates.

I wanna see you defend your view. I don’t think you can.

First paragraph you make an unsupported assertion about animals giving consent. You prefer to ignore my calling you on this REPEATEDLY.

You then follow up on that assertion with more unsupported assertions (my “atheist worldview”?). Having sex with someone who cannot give informed consent is not forced? You end the paragraph with a bait and switch of how you are using the word marriage. People who can give informed consent can both consent to entering a marriage. Here you use an older definition of the term as in “a man will cleave to (possess as property) his wife”. A non-human animal that gets married to a person doesn’t even know that it can say “No” and press charges for violating informed consent. These animals are completely subject to their owners, not in a relationship with an equal.

And I would like to see you defend your views on non-human animals being able to give informed consent. You have opened up a new ballpark of wrong that requires a defense of its own without even getting near why you think LGBT+ people who can give informed consent are wrong.

I give up. I don’t think you are capable of following a rational hypothetical / analogical argument: at least not on this topic. Further attempts to get you to grasp the nature of my argument would likely be futile. I take a very dim view of wasted time, so . . .


(originally 12-21-15)


Photo credit: Daedalus, Pasiphae and the wooden cow. Roman fresco from the northern wall of the triclinium in the Casa dei Vettii (VI 15,1) in Pompeii. [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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