Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Teleology of Coitus......Again

In the previous post commentator Goldeneye said;
Doctor,

This is off topic, but I want your thoughts on this. You've talked about the purpose of sex before on this blog, and after mulling on it for a while, a thought occurred to me.
If I remember correctly, there are supposed to be two parts to sex, the unitive and the procreative. What if the primary purpose of sex is actually the unitive part,and the procreative part is a secondary purpose?

These are half formed thoughts, but critiques are welcome.
I though I'd start thsi by bringing up the relevant passage from Humanae Vitae which deals with the matter in question:
The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, "noble and worthy.'' It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.[ED]
If we look at the female menstrual cycle, we notice that the potential for fertility is not present throughout the cycle but is limited instead to about six days.

In other words, in an "average" 28 day cycle, there is no potential for procreation in roughly 22 of the 28 days present. Sexual activity during this period has no "intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life." This is not my opinion, it is an empirically observable fact, like the Earth's rotation around the Sun.

The fact that for most of the menstrual cycle sexual activity is intrinsically infertile has several important implications:

Firstly, what exactly is sex for? Clearly that assertion, carried over from Aristotle, that sex is primarily for procreation is wrong given that most sexual acts occur outside the fertility window. As I see it, sex is teleologically ordered towards getting people together, i.e. it is primarily unitive.  The generation of life is a second order phenomenon which occurs after union.  In fact, this second order phenomenon is completely outside the couple's control. If you look at the above graph, the probability for fertility is only about 35% when sex activity deliberately occurs at the optimal point in the menstrual cycle.  Even in healthy people sex at the optimal time is still not "intrinsically" linked to fertility.

Secondly: Given that the unitive meaning seems to be the primary reason for sexual activity does that mean that all acts of infertile sex are legitimate. In my opinion acts which private the sexual act are acts which are contra Caritas and are therefore forbidden. The difficulty here is determining what constitutes a privation.

For instance, does a using a condom during the infertile phase of the cycle constitute a privation?


The old "manualist" theologians, divided the sexual act into voluntary and physiological components.
The sexual act was understood as depositing the sperm into the vagina, the physiological component took care of the fertilisation. Taking a holistic view with regard to Church tradition and  the notion of privation, it's my opinion that privation of sexual act consists of measures which aim to frustrate the deposition of live semen into the vagina. That means things like condoms, pessaries, caps, spermicides are morally illicit.

Actions which mutilate the reproductive tract, vasectomy and tubal ligations are likewise illicit.

However, the gravity of the sin in these circumstances needs to be evaluated in the context of weighing the unitive good vs the procreative good should they come into opposition for whatever reason. Suppose a couple are too poor to afford contraception and already have six children and don't want anymore. A U.S. government sponsored program is offering free sterilizations. I know it's wrong but I don't know if it's mortal given the new evaluative context. I don't have a firm position on this.

What's interesting is the Pill and other anovulants. The aim here is to induce a state in the woman that is akin to the infertile phase of the menstrual cycle and therefore such agents should prima facie be licit. The question here does the suppression of ovulation in itself constitute a privation in fertility. Strictly speaking, it does constitute a privation of the periodicity of fertility, though it does not constitute a privation in fertility per se. As women who take the pill return to their previous fertility once stopping it. What the pill does is modulate fertility, not abolish it.

The thing is that the Catholic Church does permit the use of the pill provided that it used for the treatment of a medical condition, once again from HV:

On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.
This bit of text is actually quite problematic. Here the Church is permitting the use of Pill based on the principle of double effect. But the whole point of double effect doctrine is that the benefit of the intended effect is greater that privation of the unintended one. What that means is that, as a treating physician, I have to "weigh" the benefit of the therapeutic affect against the trade off in fertility.  The Pill, for instance, is quite effective at dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Is the treatment of heavy periods worth the loss of fertility? The Church seems to think it's OK. It also works well for acne. I mean is the treatment of it of more gravity than the loss of fertility. Clearly, according to the Church, acne seems to be a more serious condition than the loss of fertility. Go figure? This is one of the reasons why I reckon the document is a mess and it's why I started thinking that maybe the laity's rejection of it may have had deeper origins than just simple rebellion to Church teaching.

However, what most people don't know is that the Church actually does permit the suppression of ovulation for the regulation of fertility through the Lactation Amenorrhea Method.  The Church is quite OK with the use of an endogenous anovulant, though it's not happy with an exogenous one. Once again, go figure? However, all things considered, it would appear that the Church has unintentionally permitted the regulation of fertility provided there is a good reason.

Summing up, I think an evaluation of coitus in the the light of empirically demonstrable data leads to the conclusion the primary end of coitus is unitive with procreation being a secondary end. This view is much more in alignment with human nature and common sense than the traditional view. A view which I feel was strongly influenced by a Manichean bias in early Christianity which saw no good in Eros, even within marriage.

Bonus.

The Teleology of Coitus.
A Slow Toxin. Natural Law and Tradition

A slightly bigger if less accurate study on the fertility window.





23 comments:

Goldeneye said...

I wonder if there were any theologians and philosophers in the Western Christianity who thought that sex was primarily unitive. If there were, maybe it's time to dust them off and take a second look.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Goldeneye I'm not really sure.

Within the Catholic tradition I don't think that there would be many prior to 30's. Up till Castii Connubii the legitimacy of the unitive aspect was suspect, and only grudgingly accepted even then.

MK said...

Firstly, what exactly is sex for? Clearly that assertion, carried over from Aristotle, that sex is primarily for procreation is wrong given that most sexual acts occur outside the fertility window.

Food is "primarily" for sustenance, but humans have evolved to use it for a dozen other things, all good. But all optional. Same with sex. So what? It's still primarily for sustenance and it's disordered when frustrating the primary end. And sex is still primarily for children; everything else is secondary it must be subordinate. Or disorder eventually arises, either in the couple or the community.

And folk forget that sex is far, far bigger than food or anything else. This is the God-act of the co-creation of a unique soul into the universe. This is f***ing big. Very, very big. Restricting the use of sex around this wild and crazy fact is flat-out just common sense. So of course any rightly ordered female would never use birth control at all, and things like NFP only in the most desperate of situations. Hell, she's stepping over a lottery ticket...either a very, very important reason, or more likely in my experience, she's just telling God f**k Himself. Not quite ready for the Beatific vision, let alone the Communion of Saints.

Amusingly, nobody even needs the Church (or even deep thought) to see the terrible consequences for those who violate natural law by shunning children. This has never been about "fertility cycles" or "poverty" or even "birth control". It's about greed, selfishness, individualism, and how children interfere with all this. It's the front line of a spiritual war, and a war it looks like the West has already lost. St. Darwin speaks from the grave: https://www.unz.com/isteve/immigration-the-worlds-most-important-graph/

The Social Pathologist said...

@MK

So what? It's still primarily for sustenance and it's disordered when frustrating the primary end. And sex is still primarily for children; everything else is secondary it must be subordinate.

Including after the menopause?

The Social Pathologist said...

@MK

And another thing.

A sexual act is always unitive, it is only sometimes procreative.

Goldeneye said...

Did you ever find out what John C. Ford thought was the problem with the natural law and contraception?

The Social Pathologist said...

Did you ever find out what John C. Ford thought was the problem with the natural law and contraception?

No, I never did.

However this private letter to a priest by Bernard Lonergan (Catholic Philosopher) gets to the heart of it.

Part 1

Dear Father,

In answer to your request I would note that traditional Catholic doctrine on the sexual act followed rigorously from the position adopted by Aristotle in his De generatione animalium. That position was that the seed of the male was an instrumental cause that changed the matter supplied by the female into a sentient being. As was argued from the instance of wind-eggs, the female by herself got no further than a nutritive principle. The efficient causality of the male was needed to produce the sensitive principle or soul. On that basis it was clear that every act of insemination was of itself procreative and that any positive interference was an act of obstructing the seed in its exercise of its efficient causality.

Two factors, however, have combined to bring about a notable change in the views of Catholic theologians on this matter. The first, of course, is the fact that the Aristotelian position is erroneous. Insemination and conception are known now to be quite distinct. The act of inseminating is not an act of procreating in the sense that of itself, per se, it leads to conception. The relation of insemination to conception is just statistical and, far more frequently than not, insemination does not lead to conception.

So there arises the question whether this statistical relationship of insemination to conception is sacrosanct and inviolable. Is it such that no matter what the circumstances, the motives, the needs, any deliberate modification of the statistical relationship must always be prohibited? If one answers affirmatively, he is condemning the rhythm method. If negatively, he permits contraceptives in some cases. Like the diaphragm and the pill, the menstrual chart and the thermometer directly intend to modify the statistical relationship nature places between insemination and conception.

The Social Pathologist said...

Part 2,

Besides erroneous Aristotelian biology there has been another factor leading to the change in Catholic theological opinion. It is that sexual intercourse between man and wife both expresses and fosters their mutual love. This is fully acknowledged in Vatican II and also in Humanae vitae. Aristotle treated not marital intercourse but generation as common to all animals. His oversight has been corrected by contemporary phenomenological inquiry.

While the Encyclical acknowledges the "unitive sense" of marital intercourse, it claims that inseparable from it there is a "procreative sense." This would be easy enough to understand if one still clung to Aristotle's biology. But on contemporary biology, if insemination may be said to be inseparable from normal intercourse, conception cannot be said to be inseparable from insemination.

In my opinion such opinions as are expressed in phrases like "actus per se aptos ad generandum" and "While the Encyclical acknowledges the "unitive sense" of marital intercourse, it claims that inseparable from it there is a "procreative sense." This would be easy enough to understand if one still clung to Aristotle's biology. But on contemporary biology, if insemination may be said to be inseparable from normal intercourse, conception cannot be said to be inseparable from insemination. The discharge of two million spermatozoa into the vagina does not mean or intend two million babies. Most of the time it does not mean or intend any babies at all. The relationship of insemination to conception is not the relation of a per se cause to a per se effect. It is a statistical relationship relating a sufficiently long and random series of inseminations with some conceptions.

In my opinion such opinions as are expressed in phrases like "actus per se aptos ad generandum" and "process open to conception" are transitional. They reformulate the Aristotelian position and the resultant Catholic tradition during the interval between the discovery that Aristotelian biology is mistaken and the discovery that marital intercourse of itself, per se, is an expression and sustainer of love with only a statistical relationship to conception.

I have concentrated on what I consider the main issue. Much seems deliberately done to obscure it. The issue is not whether or not people have to have reasons for accepting the Pope's decision. The issue is that, when there is no valid reason whatever for a precept, that precept is not of natural law. Again, re dissent, Vatican II refused to oblige theologians to silence after the Pope determined controverted issues. See Orsy, America August 17 1968 p. 99, central column, top......

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Goldeneye

Just want to emphasise that Lonergan is not using my argument against HV. Longeran's "probablistic" approach is different to my "nature of the act" position. Though the two are vaguely linked

TN Papist said...

Well, there was Abraham's wife Sarah.

The Social Pathologist said...

@TN Papist

Well, there was Abraham's wife Sarah.

Mircacles are a disruption to the normal operation of nature.

The Social Pathologist said...

Mircacles are a disruption to the normal operation of nature.

Dyslexia again.

Miracles are a disruption to the normal operation of nature.

Goldeneye said...

Doctor,

I emailed the professor who runs John Ford's website and asked him if Ford ever wrote what knowledge about the reproductive cycle caused problems. Let's see if the professor responds, because I'm curious as to what his reasoning is.

Anonymous said...

Germaine Grisez, who worked closely with John C. Ford and on occasion published jointly with him, lays out a crucial difference between contraception and deliberate periodic abstinence (NFP, for example).

Before that, Grisez notes another crucial difference. Contraception is, in fact and obviously, not a sexual act at all. Going beyond his words, but implicit in them, he would argue that something like rhythm or NFP is very different from contraception. Rhythm and NFP is "not-having-sex" -- which is, in fact and obviously, inherently sexy. "Not-having-sex" is like not trying to imagine a pink elephant. The pink elephant immediately appears when you do that. You can't help it. So within the act of NOT "doing it" is an inherent association with "doing it" -- with the marital act.

But contraception is not sexy; like the policeman tapping on the car window parked at Moonlight Bay, it may be very effective at preventing pregnancy, but it's something that isn't really inherently sexual at all.

Grisez goes on to say that contraception, as a human act, is also both an act (an act which is not inherently sexy) and an intention. And the intention of contraception is "not wanting the baby whom one might cause."

Grisez admits that deliberate periodic abstinence (NFP, for example), had been for centuries roundly condemned, by Fathers of the Church, by the ordinary magisterium, and by theologians. And he equally admits that a new teaching, both magisterial and theological, has allowed deliberate periodic abstinence, and said that it is not sinful.

And even aside from any "double effect," Grisez says that this is why: by contrast with the intention of contraception, deliberate periodic abstinence (NFP, for example), in effect does not amount to "not wanting the baby." That is, if a baby happens anyway, the couple will automatically welcome him (if grudgingly at first) and love him.

So, (for example, NFP) amounts to "hoping not to get pregnant" (my words) without any actual 'not wanting' of a new life. And this is very different from contraception, which is for real "not wanting the baby whom one might cause."

LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE, Vol. 2, Chapter 8, Question E, Part 2.f
http://twotlj.org/G-2-8-E.html

"Thus, there is a real and very important difference between not wanting to cause a baby [i.e., "hoping not to get pregnant" (my words)] ... and not wanting the baby whom one might cause."

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Goldeneye

I emailed the professor who runs John Ford's website

That's a great idea.

Just in case he needs to know where the quote has been taken from it's;

John Cuthbert Ford, SJ: Moral Theologian at the End of the Manualist Era, by Eric Marcelo O. Genilo SJ,2008, Georgetown University Press, Page 80. The quote has been taken from a letter to Fr. Wright, 1964.

I had a quick re read of the book and as I see it Ford "weighted" things as follows;

1) Papal Authority (Supreme)
2) Tradition (Secondary)
3) Reason and Science(Tertiary)

Ford was actually open to the possibility of some revision to the teaching.

"I recognize that our modern knowledge of the cycles of fertility-sterility in women make it possible and desirable to re-evaluate certain theological conclusions we have held in the past. I recognize that there is room for theological development precisely because of this scientific knowledge."He wrote, "I am not unwilling to accept developments of the theological teaching, especially when based on physiological facts that are pertinent. I think the cyclic character of female fertility-sterility is such a fact."Ford anticipated that new scientific data on the female fertility cycle and the development of various methods of fertility regulation (progestational tational steroids, protein diets, etc.) could open the possibility of reevaluating the teaching on direct temporary sterilization in order to allow human intervention to correct abnormal cycles.s "With the prospect in the not too distant future of not only detecting but of determining the exact time of ovulation, there would be grounds for hope, with Pius XII, that science will succeed in providing a sufficiently secure basis for the effective practice of periodic continence."

It's just when Paul VI put the brakes on it, he swung around towards defending the Pope.

Another interesting thing which you realise after reading the book is just how much Castii Connubi disturbed him. He had significant difficulties reconciling the changes to tradition that this document espoused. He also realised that the new physiological facts permitted a change in direction of the teaching, but not a reversal in course and was prepared to countenance the option. He definitely was a "honest" theologian but had problems when it came to the reconciliation of fact, tradition and authority, and when put to the test he always deferred to Papal Authority.

This, I think, was his fundamental fault. Should Papal Authority conflict with the Truth, Truth must win out.

BTW. Genilo's book is a very good book which highlights the theology behind many of the contemporary problems of the Church.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Anon

Thanks.

Grisez goes on to say that contraception, as a human act, is also both an act (an act which is not inherently sexy) and an intention. And the intention of contraception is "not wanting the baby whom one might cause."

Respectfully, I think Grisez is engaging in some "semantic shifting" here to shore up his position.

Firstly,

From your comments it would appear that Grisez is defining sexual acts as only being acts with a procreative potential. This is a dishonest manipulation of the term which one frequently sees on the left. i.e. disagreement=hate. Well, that is not how the rest of the world uses the term. Sexual acts are acts which bring pleasure to the generative organs.

Secondly,

"Grisez goes on to say that contraception, as a human act, is also both an act (an act which is not inherently sexy) and an intention. And the intention of contraception is "not wanting the baby whom one might cause."

The aim of a contraceptive sex act is to have an infertile sex act. [I'm not acquiescing to Grisez's "semantic shift" which comes about through an acceptance of his non-normative definition of sex.] That is exactly what couples practicing NFP are aiming at The intentionality behind NFP's and contraceptors is exactly the same, only the methods differ. Obscuring, by conflation, the intentionality of the act with the method chosen is intellectually dishonest.

Lots of people, who are on the pill, and who accidentally get pregnant are happy to keep the baby and would never think of an abortion.

P(1)It's one thing not to want to get pregnant.
P(2)it's another to accept a pregnancy that you didn't want.
P(3)and yet another to abort the baby.

Wanting not to get pregnant is not the same as not wanting the baby after accidentally getting pregnant.

As I have demonstrated P(1) is not mutually exclusive of P(2). This is a fault in Grisez's logic. What he is trying to do is conflate P(1) with P(3) and thereby trying to transfer the moral opprobrium of abortion onto a deliberately chosen sexual act which is infertile: Two totally different things. As Grisez is not an unintelligent man you've got to wonder about the strength of his case when he has to resort to the style of "reasoning" frequently seen on the Left. i.e concept conflation and semantic shifting.

A Dilettante said...

Sir,

While you provide good reasoning, I disagree. You presume that "unitive" sex is an independent action from "procreative" sex, i.e. it is an end in itself. Clearly procreation is the superior form of sexual intercourse, which is interdependent with the successful regularity of intimacy - unitive sex being said fulfillment (if not its highest). I may argue that unitive sex elevates procreation, making the act of reproduction in man a possibly sacred conduct, separating ourselves from the animal kingdom. Furthermore, that this is encoded in nature's design is proof to us of a good God: He has given us permission to elevate ourselves towards Him and away from the jungle.

The Social Pathologist said...

You presume that "unitive" sex is an independent action from "procreative" sex, i.e. it is an end in itself

It's not my opinion it's an observed fact. Coitus during pregnancy does not beget more children, coitus in menopause dose not beget children and coitus during the infertile phase of the menstrual cycle does not beget children. There's no presumption here at all.


making the act of reproduction in man a possibly sacred conduct,

It's funny. The early Church fathers found intercourse problematic given it's carnal nature. St Thomas, for instance, didn't really think the conceptus was human until "ensoulment" occurred which was forty days after the act of conception--I could be wrong re dates--so simply getting pregnant was no big deal.

It's important to understand that we don't create human life, we simply set up the conditions for human life to be created. The old manualist theologians recognised this by dividing the sexual act into the voluntary and physiological components. Ask any couple that is infertile, no matter how much they try they can't "create" life.

Christianity has a serious problem with sex which I believe, at it's core, stems for a misunderstanding of erotic love and its relationship to caritas. I days of old it was seen to be contrary to caritas and now it is seen a synonymous with it. Hence we have tended to look at sex as either some kind of regrettably necessary "filthy" act or some kind of "sacred" duty. The mirth of the erotic, and simple joy that erotic intimacy gives between spouses is killed by theological seriousness which lovers rightly ignore.

Take a silly example: If you look at the act of urination you initially regard it as necessary but dirty act. When you study the biomechanics of urination and renal filtration you are awed by the underlying processes and elegant design which enable the elimination of toxins and the regulation of electrolyte homeostasis. It really is amazing. Urination is a mechanism of purification of evil/toxins from the body. But I don't think--quite rightly--I've every seen urination "theologised" into analogy of Christ's purifying love. It strikes most normal people as off-putting, kind of when some of the radical theologians speak of Christ's love as erotic. People feel uncomfortable about such analogies because they overstep the mark.

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2007/09/sex-and-mysticism

And yet it is precisely what we do with sex. I think we have to learn to accept sex for what it is not deform it to our prejudices and biases.

Chent said...



Hence we have tended to look at sex as either some kind of regrettably necessary "filthy" act or some kind of "sacred" duty. The mirth of the erotic, and simple joy that erotic intimacy gives between spouses is killed by theological seriousness which lovers rightly ignore.

I had this impression by studying the Theology of the Body of John Paul II (thank God it is not dogma and I can disagree with it). The sexual act was treated like a sacrament. You had to make sex giving yourself with the highest level of selflessness, which meant "open to life", which meant "ejaculating inside the vagina". Everything else was selfish and the act of sex should be an act of love as pure as the one that Christ has for His Church. I thought: "John Paul II, God bless his soul, didn't know what sex is".

It was irritating. It is like being a French chef and hearing a guy who has never been in France and has never seen a kitchen, giving you lessons about how you should cook a French dish to please your wife. And telling you that if something is not perfect, it is not an acceptable gift for your wife. So, if the tomato is not perfectly round or you eat a bit of the dish while you are cooking, this is not acceptable gift for your wife, because you should approach the task with selfless perfection.

In all the discussion about contraception between married couples, I miss a bit of compassion, among all those philosophical arguments. There are million of couples who want to be faithful to each other and to the Church. Some of them don't want to have eight children (so kill them for being so perverse). Some guys will say that they are selfish for being "closed to life", but these self-righteous guys who are "the most pure Christians in the world" (TM) won't pay a cent for the kids of these couples. They have "no skin in the game".

These are "Trad" couples (if they weren't, they wouldn't give a damn about what the Church says about contraception). How does the Church deal with these couples, the most faithful of the couples in a de-Christianized world? With cruelty, that's how. Then they are astonished when people leave the Church.

Offering them Natural Family Planning would be a solution, but the Church does not offer that to them. The Church says that they can only resort to NFP in extreme cases and when their motives are completely pure and with no drop of selfishness. Everything else is sin.

In addition, I love Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophy but I have to say that these philosophies are NOT dogma. Jesus never spoke about "thwarting the final cause of an action is a bad thing and you will perish". I don't find this in the gospels and, in Catholic teaching, it is perfectly fine to thwart the final cause of everything except sex.

But, when it comes to sex, everybody gets self-righteous and applies the finest Aristotelian logic to preserve the perfection of the act. They don't take into account that they are treating with human lives, with people that want to do good and navigate a very decadent world with faithfulness to Christ and to the Church. Matthew 23:4 describes them perfectly



The Social Pathologist said...

@ Chent

JPII's Theology of the Body was an attempt to shore up the traditional teaching of sexuality using a new philosophical approach, but it was not an approach based upon the experience of sexuality, even within the context of a chaste married life.

I don't think that it is "lack of experience" which led him to the position rather the problem is how to justify the "openess to life" in everyact that leads to a hypothethesised sexuality instead of a real one.

Offering them Natural Family Planning would be a solution, but the Church does not offer that to them. The Church says that they can only resort to NFP in extreme cases and when their motives are completely pure and with no drop of selfishness. Everything else is sin.

I don't think NFP is reserved for "severe" cases. It's a matter of interpretation and the Trads usually are the ones who interpret it "severely".

Goldeneye said...

Doctor,

No reply back from the professor. However, googling "criticism of Humanae Vitae" has yield some interesting results

https://www.amazon.com/Dissent-church-Theologians-Humanae-Search/dp/0836200500/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1473811533&sr=8-16&keywords=humanae+vitae&linkCode=ll1&tag=cothinlo-20&linkId=b9704df8f719e3b54836906ea3fc245b

https://theo.kuleuven.be/apps/christian-ethics/sources/Barberi-Selling.pdf

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/overwriting-tradition-humanae-vitae-replaced-real-church-teaching

https://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/did-humanae-vitae-unintentionally-undermine-the-authority-of-the-church/

MK said...

SP: Including after the menopause?

We don't get to decide that and must always hope for fertility. It's really not that hard.

SP: A sexual act is always unitive, it is only sometimes procreative.

So what? My point is that we should want children and not degrade the act. Merely avoid it if one cannot hack procreative. This is just common sense.

This discussion often reminds me of arguments that deny Mary's perpetual virginity. I'm like: sheese, knowing Mary's womb is the Arc of the Covenant that held God himself, does anybody really thing Joseph would bed Mary??? It makes me wilt to just think of it.

In the same way, knowing that a woman's womb is primarily for the creation of an immortal soul, could anybody of faith engage in sex while thwarting that primary purpose? No way. At most, he would just sidestep the issue and engage in his un action outside of the fertile window. But again, only in the most desperate of times...which of course is never what people are worried about where I live. It's all about vice.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Goldeneye.

a)I haven't read much of Curran and I understand he is theologically suspect. He was one of the first to publically disagree with HV. I don't factor his arguments into my own.

b)Circumstantial insights into the development of HV don't really tackle the issue of the morality of contraception per se. I think the "inseperability" principle isn't so much a "Polish" line of thought rather an inevitable consequence when you try to combine the recognition of the unitive aspect of the act which its intrinsic (Aristotelian) procreative teleology.

c) Did HV undermine the Authority of the Church. Yes it did in my opinion. The "reception" by the faithful is an important metric of a teachings legitimacy and from the outset the teaching was honored in the breach. The "clericist" mindset, which automatically interprets any dissent as being of bad faith. The "dissent" should have provoked far more head scratching from the senior clergy. And yet given the institutionalised clericalism in the Church, the notion of any idea that "they could be wrong" totally escapes them. Zero discernment.

@Mk.

We don't get to decide that and must always hope for fertility. It's really not that hard.

Menopause was designed by God, as was the infertile phase of the menstrual cycle. He clearly did not intend fertility at these times.

In the same way, knowing that a woman's womb is primarily for the creation of an immortal soul, could anybody of faith engage in sex while thwarting that primary purpose?

Yes. The Church approves of NFP which is an attempt to have sex when fertility is absent.









has done much to destroy the legitimacy and respect towards the Church.