When I first put down some thoughts on sexual ethics here and at “The Open Tabernacle”, it was quite specifically intended as simply a collection of principles that I have put together for myself, rather than any reasoned and coherent system of ethics. Later, I referred rather off-handedly to the church, which developed its own teaching without any reference to empirical data from external reality
For this I was criticized by a reader, who pointed out reasonably enough that I too had presented no empirical data. He went on to refer to the finding so Kinsey and biology as proof that “nature”, by hot wiring a direct connection between the genitals and the pleasure centres of the brain, predisposes and directs our sexual energies to reproduction. As this is a variant of the “natural law” basis for so much of traditional Catholic teaching on sex, I thought I would share with you some of the evidence, the “empirical data”, that directly contradicts the conclusion above.
As I explored the evidence though, I soon realised that there is so much of it, in such startlingly diverse abundance, that it would be impossible to cover the topic properly in just a single post. Instead, I will tackle it in a series, looking at it from several different perspectives. By way of preview, these are just some of the headings I propose to tackle first:
- The contradictions in the concept of “natural law” as used in Christian theology, and the factual errors about animal biology that underlie it.
- The abundant evidence for homosexuality in traditional African societies from the Stone Age onwards, which flatly contradicts the claims that it was foreign to Africa and introduced by the Western colonisers – or by the Arabs,
- The institution of compulsory homosexual practices for boys, as a means of acquiring many virtues.
- The widespread recognition of homosexual orientation in individuals as a spiritual gift
- The common practice of sustaining homosexual relationships in parallel with heterosexual marriages
- Examples from the animal world
- The Middle Eastern context of the biblical world
- China, Japan and Korea
- Pre-modern Europe
I do not have any rigid structuring principle for the order in which I shall tackle these, but will probably do so roughly inversely to their familiarity – starting with the least well known, so the first two should be on African homosexuality, and on same sex experience as part of acquiring virility.
Anybody have special preferences?
Naphy, William: Born to be Gay
Greenberg, David F: The Construction of Homosexuality
Herdt, Gilbert H: Same Sex, Different Cultures
Murray, Stephen O: Homosexualities
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- Catholic Sexual Ethics, Social Ethics, and Reality-Based Theology (queering-the-church.com)
- “The Sexual Person”: Bishops, Theologians Clash on Sexual Ethics (queertheology.blogspot.com)
- Insight from History into Orientation (rooting-for-gay-marriage.blogspot.com)