Thursday, December 29, 2011

Traditional Marriage: The nature and purpose of sexual relations

Perhaps the most contentious part of the tradition marriage fight is viewpoint of the nature and purpose of sexual relations.  No aspect of this debate is more fraught with disagreement (and vehemently so) than the views regarding sexual relations between persons.

First we must be clear what we mean "nature" and "purpose."  Roughly speaking, "nature" is defined as what a thing "is."  The components of a particular entity or the properties of such.  "Purpose" refers to the targeted goal of an entity.  This can also be understood as "what a thing tends towards" or "function" and is a property of an entity.

The contemporary view of sexual relations (in particular the organs for such relations) are primarily for pleasure and recreation, with varying effects of generating feelings of closeness and mutual affection.  Procreation, the generation of a new human being is at best something to control and at worst an unwanted byproduct of such relations.

The implications for same-sex relationships are obvious.  If sexual relations are simply for pleasure and possible mutual affection, then the same should readily be available to same-sex pairings.  Indeed, it seems not only silly but wrong to deny that such pairing are just another form of sexual relationship.

Contra such erroneous ideas is the "Natural Law" view of sexual relations.  By nature, the purpose of sexual relations is procreation.  That is the primary purpose.  It is the natural end of such relations.  The primary purpose of half of our physiology is intended for (or tends toward) reproduction.  As such to attempt to sever the relationship between sexual relations and reproduction is to do violence to the very nature of sexual relations, by frustrating the very purpose of those relations.

A secondary, though still very important, purpose is the drawing together of the couple.  The nature of sexual relations naturally draws the couple together.  It is a part of the nature of such relations as procreation, and to separate this from the acts also does violence to sexual relations.

I will only treat one objection in this post as it is the one I often come in most contact with either explicitly or implicitly.  Some would argue that the development of the euphemistically named "reproductive technologies" has rendered the natural law understanding of sexual relations obsolete.  By preventing the conception of a new human being we have redefined what sexual relations are.

My counter to this is that one does not change the nature of a thing simply by frustrating the intended purpose of the thing.  If I were to stick a cork in the barrel of a gun I have not changed the nature of the gun.  All I have done is simply impeded the bullet firing out of the barrel.  The gun is still a gun, and the purpose of the gun (to fire a bullet out of the barrel) is still its purpose.

Because of this we now begin to see that in order to use sexual relations properly we must be mindful of this understanding of sexual relations.  And that by the nature of sexual relations same-sex pairings are excluded by nature.  To do otherwise is to do violence to the nature of sexual relations and by extension to ourselves by attempting to frustrate the natural end of such relations.  The long and sad history of sexual relations in the modern era, with single women who become pregnant, abortion, and the proliferation of STDs is but one aspect of this tragic new understanding.

1 comment:

Chris (Longmont, CO) said...

I have been looking at the arguments which the “pro-choice” crowd are using, and one of them just has me completely baffled (yeah … most of them do, but this one in particular). The argument goes something like this: (1) We all know that people, children and otherwise, are going to be “doing it.” (2) We should offer them the freedom to do this in a safe and secure manner. (3) This is why we offer them condoms and other forms of contraceptives. In short, they are likening the act of procreation to a recreational activity. However, they are also saying that the tax payers must pay for it.

What confuses me about this, is if people were to take any other “recreational” activity, they would be told that their safety is their own business.

For example, rock climbing … it would be nice if the government would pay for my harnesses, rope, etc … but for some reason, they won’t. What about deep sea diving … or … bungee jumping?

Considering that the “pro-choice” crowd consider the act of procreation as recreation ... they are stating that these activities are similar. However, they aren't willing to admit that they hold a double standard.