Sexual Ethics, Human Nature, and New Natural Law Theory

Sep 25, 2019 by

By Melissa Moschella, Public Discourse:

[…] The new natural law approach to sexual morality begins with an account of marriage as a basic human good, i.e., an activity or end that is choiceworthy precisely as a constitutive aspect of human well-being and fulfillment. As John Finnis writes in “Marriage: A Basic and Exigent Good,”

Marriage is a distinct fundamental human good because it enables the parties to it, the wife and husband, to flourish as individuals and as a couple, both by the most far-reaching form of togetherness possible for human beings and by the most radical and creative enabling of another person to flourish, namely, the bringing of that person into existence as conceptus, embryo, child, and eventually adult, fully able to participate in human flourishing on his or her own responsibility.

The two aspects of the good of marriage—interpersonal union and procreation—are inseparable from one another. What makes marriage “the most far-reaching form of togetherness” is that it involves a union not only of minds and hearts but also of bodies, and genuine bodily union is only possible due to the sexual-reproductive complementarity of a man and a woman. In other words, it is only in coitus that two human organisms can truly become bodily one, jointly coordinating for the single biological end of procreation (whether or not procreation is intended or actually results).

Since, then, practical reason grasps marriage, so described, as a good to-be-pursued (and what opposes it as to-be-avoided), sexual morality consists in determining which choices, acts and intentions are compatible with respect for the good of marriage. A sex act—any deed, word, or thought intended to cause sexual arousal and/or satisfaction in oneself or another—is wrong when and insofar as it is contrary to the good of marriage.

What makes a sex act contrary to the good of marriage?

Read here

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