How Critical is Sexual Desire to Human Identity? [Blogathon 8/12]

How Critical is Sexual Desire to Human Identity? [Blogathon 8/12] June 11, 2012

This post is number eight of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I’m responding to comments in the “Go Ahead, Tell Me What’s Wrong with Homosexuality” thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you’re religious) here.

At one point in the discussion, Ubiquitous was expanding on Thomist philosophy and laid out a ‘prebuttal’ (of which I’m excerpting only one idea):

In a hale and mature adult human, eyes are for seeing. If the eyes see poorly or not at all, there is something wrong. We call this disordered.

In a hale and mature adult human, teeth are for chewing. If the teeth chew poorly or not at all, there is something wrong. We call this disordered.

In a hale and mature adult human, sexual passions prompt us to sexual activity. If we are prompted poorly or not at all, there is something wrong. We call this disordered.

I’m not sure it’s fair to say that if sexual passions don’t prompt us to sexual activity that there’s something wrong or disordered going on.  Especially for a church that values consecrated, celibate life.  If consecrated celibacy is a vocation, then is it meant to be a constant suppression of sexual appetite or does it represent a transfiguration of intimacy?

Jumping from tools and their functions to desires and their objects feels a little sudden to me.  A tool that doesn’t work is useless.  A person without a certain desire (for marriage, for sex, for physical work, etc) seems perfectly whole, but just not suited to every role or vocation.  I can imagine certain drives that are absolutely critical to fulfilled human life (companionship with others, for example), but I don’t know that I’d place sexual desire on that list.

Ubiquitous goes on to mention that only opposite-gender sex can serve “the survival of the species,” but I don’t know why everyone’s talents should be specifically directed toward that goal (or, even if that were the duty of every human, why queer folk couldn’t go into microbiology, and do their part there).

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